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Chinook pips mi-26 for indian helicopter tender


Sep 17, 2010
The US is now all set to bag yet another mega Indian defence deal, with the iconic Boeing-manufactured Chinook heavy-lift helicopters emerging as the cheaper option than its strong contender the Russian Mi-26 choppers.

Defence ministry sources said the commercial bid for the twin-rotor Chinook, which has seen recent action in Iraq and Afghanistan, has emerged as the "L-1 (lowest bidder)" in comparison to the Mi-26 after both the huge helicopters passed the extensive technical field trials conducted by Indian Air Force (IAF).

"The present contract is for 15 such multi-mission helicopters. The Chinook bid was lower both in terms of initial direct acquisition cost as well as life cycle cost. The contract negotiation committee will now finalize the deal for the Chinook," said a source.

Known for their powerful contra-rotating tandem rotors, Chinooks are being operated by around 20 countries for heavy-lift assault, troop movement, logistics support, aerial battlefield recovery and special operations. Capable of being refuelled mid-air for extended range, a Chinook can carry 55 combat-ready troops or over 11,100 kg of logistical supplies or weight.

This is the second time that American helicopters have outclassed — both technically and commercially — their Russian counterparts in recent months. As reported earlier, India is getting ready to order 22 heavy-duty Apache attack helicopters for around $1.4 billion.

Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow met all ASQRs (air staff qualitative requirements) but its contender the Russian Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant's Mi-28 Havoc had failed to pass muster during the field trials held by IAF.

Overall, the Indian armed forces are looking to induct as many as 900 helicopters in the coming decade, including 440 light-utility and observation, naval multi-role (90), light combat (65), heavy-duty attack (22), medium-lift (139) and heavy-lift (15), among others. Several of these procurement and production projects are meandering through the long-winding acquisition process.

The US is increasingly bagging deals in the lucrative Indian defence market, having already notched up military sales worth over $8 billion in the last few years. These include the $4.1 billion contract for 10 C-17 Globemaster-III strategic airlift aircraft, $2.1 billion for eight P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and $962 million for six C-130J "Super Hercules" planes. Negotiations are being finalized for acquiring six more C-130J as well as four more P-8I aircraft.

There was a lot of heartburn in the US after its F-16 and F/A-18 fighters lost out to the French Rafale in the almost $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to supply 126 jets to IAF, which is in the final commercial negotiations stage.

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