India's 197 Copter Deal Suspended, Indefinitely.

Bad news for Eurocopter and Kamov. The Indian Army / Air Force joint reconnaissance & surveillance helicopter (RSH) acquisition programme -- for 197 helicopters all in flyaway condition -- has been indefinitely deferred. At a meeting of the country's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) at the Defence Ministry today, it was decided, like it happens so often in India, that no decision would be taken just yet. The official reason recorded at the meeting was the absence of India's Army Chief, General Bikram Singh, currently in Japan on an official visit. The truth, of course, is somewhat different, and has been known for a while now.

Since an all-out cancellation would be too abrupt at this stage, my sources inform me that the deal is likely to languish without decision indefinitely. As I reported earlier, Eurocopter has refused to extend the validity of its commercial bid beyond March 31, 2013, leaving therefore very little time for "clear visibility" from the MoD. Plainly, it doesn't look good.

And with a federal investigation into India's acquisition of AgustaWestland AW101 executive transport helicopters announced yesterday, my sources tell me the collateral damage from the heat has only allowed the government to justify a non-decision on the light copter procurement. At any rate, it seems unlikely now that the government will make any major moves. Parliament reconvenes a week from now, and it promises to be (when is it not) full of righteous turbulence. I'll be looking out for politicians who see the irony, of course, in a deal for copters for politicians going bad, and ending up shafting a deal for copters for army soldiers at India's most hostile battlefields.

The Eurocopter AS 550 C3 Fennec and Kamov Ka-226T Sergei compete for a deal that could top $600-million, but appears now to be headed, once again, into oblivion. More here.

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