The competition for 197 light utility helicopters for the Indian army may be nearing an end.
Eurocopter is widely rumored to be the winner over Bell Helicopter, and officials of the European manufacturer privately confirm that the company is in negotiations with that nation. But neither party had publicly confirmed Eurocopter’s selection by mid-June, and the competition has spurred a number of erroneous reports about Bell winning, then losing.
A number of industry observers expected Eurocopter’s selection to be declared at the Paris Air Show, which was to open June 18. The deal is reported to be worth close to $600 million.
The army is seeking to replace its Cheetahs, which have been flying for 40 years. The Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec, the military version of the French Ecureuil, is seen as the likely candidate. Fennecs are used for surveillance, casualty evacuation and medium transport. It is fitted with a Turbomeca Arriel 2B turbine engines.
If Eurocopter is awarded the contract, the company said, it would adhere to offset obligations and hold back a certain amount of helicopters to be built in India by Hindustan Aeronautics, Ltd.
Bell Helicopter had offered its 407 in the competition.