The Indian Defense Ministry issued a request for proposals for 197 military Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) in July 2008, to replace the existing fleet of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters in the three service.
The procurement is valued at up to $750 million with a 30% offset clause.
"All of the helicopters will be bought directly from the manufacturers. Of these, 133 are for the army and 64 for the air force. The services will have a joint evaluation and pick the helicopter that best fits their requirements," said a Defense Ministry spokesperson.
Sixty of the 197 helicopters will be supplied in a fly away condition while the remaining 137 will be assembled in India by HAL.
The contract is being processed under the old Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2006), mandating 50% offset obligation.
The eventual requirement for the helicopters is projected at 384.
The additional requirement for 187 LUHs (126 for the Army and 61 for the Air Force) will be met by HAL either through license production of the winning bidder's model or the manufacture of an indigenously developed helicopter.
HAL will also be responsible for supporting the 197 helicopters acquired through out-right purchase.
An earlier tender for 197 utility helicopters in favor of Eurocopter AS550 was canceled in December 2007 following allegations of irregularities in the procurement process.
On April 6, 2013, it was reported that MOD asked the two competing vendors, Eurocopter and Rosoboronexport to extend the validity of their bids. [via PTI]
On April 3, 2013, the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defense Minister AK Antony, deferred a decision on the acquisition pending completion of an investigation into allegations that AgustaWestland paid bribes to win the deal to supply 12 VIP helicopters. [via NDTV]
The DAC deferred its decision after the Army asked the MOD to probe allegations that a Brigadier, who was in-charge of the trial team for 197 light choppers, demanded a Rs 25 crore bribe from AgustaWestland to swing the deal in its favor.
On March 16, 2013, Defense Minister AK Antony told parliament that the procurement process for the LUHs had been "conducted in accordance with the Defense Procurement Procedure" and there was "no formal inquiry into the procurement process. The proposal is due for consideration of the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC). [via PIB]
In 2009 AgustaWestland (AW119), Eurocopter (AS-550) and Russia's Rosoboronexport (Kamov-226) responded to the second RFP.
The twin engined Ka-226, with co-axial rotors, is an upgraded version of the Ka-26. It has a configurable body, quiet engines and a service ceiling of 7,600m.
In early December 2009, MOD invited qualifying contenders for trials, which were expected to be completed by 2011 and a contract finalized in 2012.
As in November 2011, only two contenders remained in the fray after trails - Russian Kamov 226T offered by ROE and AS550C3 offered by Eurocopter
Speaking to the press on November 18, 2011, IAF Chief NAK Browne said the IAF had completed competitive trials of the helicopters.
"Trial report is being formulated," he added.
"There were one or two issues which required more clarifications and that's been resolved. So, it will move now", the Air Chief said.
On April 18, 2012, India Today reported that the procurement is stalled due to alleged irregularities in the flight trials evaluation process.
According to a complaint received by MOD, during the trials one of the helicopters fielded did not have an exit for evacuation of passengers. Also, the Eurocopter AS 550 C3 wasn't able to fit a stretcher in its cabin. The company said it would provide bulged doors for the purpose.
Since bulged doors could change the characteristics of the helicopter at high altitudes, MOD has taken note of the allegation.
The Defense Acquisition Council has set up a technical oversight committee chaired by an Army Lt. General to investigate and submit its report by end of May 2012. The committee has reps from the IAF, DRDO and ADA.
On November 28, 2011, The Sunday Guardian reported that the Defence Procurement Board (DPB), chaired by the Defence Secretary, has told the Army to drop the requirement for a 6,000m HOGE capability, which neither of the two qualifying contender fulfills, to allow the procurement process to progress.
The Hindu reported on December 7, 2011 that the DPB had also dropped the the ‘cold soak test' that required a helicopter to be started up after being parked overnight at a helipad above 5,000. The test could not be conducted as the Army didn't have a helipad at that height.
The AS550 C3 is the single engine, high performance, multi-mission version of the Ecureuil/Fennec family.
It is fitted with a TURBOMECA Arriel 2 engine equipped with a dual channel FADEC system (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) developing 847 shp / 632 kW.
The helicopter features a glass cockpit and can be flown at night with night vision goggles.
This helicopter is particularly suited for high altitudes and hot climates. In addition to its high manoeuvrability and outstanding agility, the FENNEC AS550 C3 proves to be a stable firing platform and can be equipped with any kind of weapon, thanks to the Stand Alone Weapon System (SAWS)
Armed with a 20 mm axial gun or with two rocket launchers, it can perform 2 hours and 45 minutes of tactical flight missions with 20 minutes fuel reserve.
In its anti-tank configuration, it can be equipped with TOW missiles and can operate both day and night. When armed with 4 missiles, this aircraft can perform a tactical flight mission lasting 2 hours 30 minutes, both day and night, and still have a fuel reserve of 20 minutes.
The sea level performance with max gross weight is as follows
Maximum speed (Vne) 155 kts / 287 km per hr
Cruise speed 134 kts / 248 km per hr
Rate of climb 1,935 ft per min / 9.8 m per s
Hover ceiling IGE 12,710 ft / 3,875 m
Hover ceiling OGE 10,560 ft / 3,220 m
Range with standard tanks 348 nm / 645 km
The Kamov-226T is powered by two Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 engines. It is capable of flying on a single engine.