An order for as many as 35 AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopters, which might be produced by the Helivert joint factory with Russian Helicopters, hit a snag in late August. Negotiations between the Russian Defense Ministry and AgustaWestland spilled into the press, with deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov telling the country’s news agency Itar-Tass, “It’s a very expensive machine. If they cut the price, then we can return to the issue,” giving the distinct impression that a decision had already been made to pass on the $671 million order.
However, this may just be a bargaining tactic. An AgustaWestland spokesman told AIN that negotiations for the order were still very much alive. “Negotiations are ongoing, we are unable to say at present when further info or a decision is going to be taken,” the spokesman told AIN.
If closed, the deal could be a boon for the Helivert joint-venture corporation established between AgustaWestland and government-controlled Russian Helicopters in 2010. Helivert’s plant, in the Tomilino industrial area, produced its first AW139 in January this year and is geared to manufacture up to 15 of the typ annually. The plant is designed to perform final assembly of AgustaWestland helicopters destined for Russia and the CIS states and can employ up to 100 people.
In May, Helivert announced a contract for five AW139s from Exclases Russia. AgustaWestland claims that more than 20 AW139s are on order from customers in Russia and another 50 from entities throughout the CIS.
AgustaWestland has sold more than 730 AW139s since it introduced the type a decade ago. Depending on equipment, the helicopters sell for approximately $12 million apiece. The Russian government has already ordered three AW139s for unspecified usage.