India has reopened bidding for 197 utility helicopters for its army and air force. The helicopters are expected to be inducted into service by 2010 in a deal valued about $750 million.
Army and air force officials have identified requirements for 312 helicopters, but the Defense Ministry limited the re-competition to the 197 sought in the most recent tender. They scaled back the bidding after the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd assured defense officials that it could develop and deliver 115 helicopters through 2014.
Of the 197 light utility helicopters, defense officials said, 133 would go to the army and 64 to air force. The new aircraft would replace 1970s-vintage Chetaks and Cheetahs. In addition to replacing those helicopters, the army is looking to expand its aviation corps to meet today’s and future battlefield mobility requirements.
According to officials, potential competitors have three months to respond to the tender. Indian officials expect to take three months after that to review the received bids.