Sikorsky Aircraft is lobbying to replace AgustaWestland (AW) as the supplier of VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force. The company is already building fuselages for the S-92 in India. Meanwhile, the Indian Minister of Defense confirmed that the ministry had sent a legal notice to AgustaWestland regarding the contract for 12 AW101s, now in jeopardy after the company allegedly violated the terms of a pre-integrity pact. The company has 21 days to respond.
“Sikorsky will be more than willing to provide the helicopters, the more so as we are building the cabins in Hyderabad,” said Arvind Walia, regional executive, India and South Asia, for Sikorsky. The company recently turned out the 50th Indian-manufactured and assembled S-92 cabin there. It is the first such cabin to use Indian-manufactured parts exclusively. The Indian facility is now the sole supplier for S-92 cabins, having taken over from Mitsubishi of Japan. Hyderabad will also supply H-92 cabins if the company receives orders for the military version, said Shane Eddy, Sikorsky senior vice president for operations.
However, according to a statement by the MoD released last February: “The Staff Evaluation Report of Air HQ concluded that the S-92 helicopter was noncompliant with respect to four SQRs for the VVIP helicopter (missile approach warning system, service ceiling of 4.5 km, drift down altitude and hover out of ground effect). The Staff Evaluation Report assessed the VVIP helicopter AW101 as fully compliant with all SQRs.” A senior government official told AIN: “The question now is whether India is willing to accept the reduced requirements.”
Guy Douglas, spokesman for AgustaWestland in New Delhi, said the company would “respond accordingly” to the legal notice. An OEM in defense production said: “This matter will not be solved very easily. Reputational damage can cause a big blow to any company working on global deals. If AgustaWestland gives up easily on this, the world will see it as an admission of guilt.”
According to the MoD note, both the contract and integrity pact signed with AgustaWestland “contain specific provisions by which strict action, including cancellation of contract, recovery of payment, blacklisting and penal action, can be taken.”