Although the Italian prosecutor has discontinued investigations of alleged wrongdoings in the sale of 12 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters to India for VVIP transport, the fate of the program remains unclear. AgustaWestland has agreed to pay a “negligible fine (which)…is not in any way an admission of any wrongdoing or liability,” said a statement from Finmeccanica, which further noted that the Prosecutor had “specifically acknowledged the non-involvement” of the parent company.
The previous Indian government canceled AgustaWestland’s contract last January and started converting bank guarantees. India shelved the contract on the grounds that the precontract integrity pact had been breached. The following month, the Finmeccanica group was barred from the DefExpo in Delhi by then-Defence Minister A.K. Anthony, who declared it was “a clean-up signal for the industry.” In seeking to portray a “clean” image, Anthony often put defense bids on hold following the smallest complaint by competition.
AIN has learned that new Indian guidelines on blacklisting are expected to be announced, along with changes in the defense procurement policy. “India’s new government and MoD has…indicated that allegations must be based on proof and process, not conjecture,” a senior official told AIN.
With rotables having run out, the three AW101s already delivered to the Indian Air Force are not flying anymore. Another three are in storage at AW’s Yeovil, UK facility. The deal was to replace aging Russian Mi-8 helicopters.