India will receive next year the first batch of the 12 helicopters for transportation of VIPs. Half the fleet is expected by the end of 2012 as the assembly of the first two helicopters has commenced at the manufacturer’s facilities in Europe.
Sharing this information, AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian helicopter company which is a part of the conglomerate Finmeccania, said here during the ongoing airshow that it is a prestigious order for the company that has a long presence in India.
“We have started assembling the first two helicopters and will be soon moving to begin work on interior design. The helicopters are being made in batches of three, and two batches would be delivered by next year,” Bruno Spagnolini, Chief Executive Officer of the company, said at a media interaction. Senior Vice-President Roberto Garavalia said the entire fleet should be handed over to India by 2013.
Last year, India ordered three-engine AW101 helicopters from AgustaWestland for € 560 million (approximately Rs.3,700 crore), which besides protection suites includes product support for five years. The helicopter would be operated by the elite Indian Air Force Communication Squadron and replace the current fleet of Russian Mi8 and Mi17.
The helicopter was selected after field trials, whose results were evaluated by the IAF and the Special Protection Group, responsible for protection of the Prime Minister and select political leaders. It was chosen over American Sikorsky S92 Superhawk for having features that suited requirements of security.
AgustaWestland supplied Seaking helicopters to the Navy four decades ago and is eyeing the growing commercial market and the military one meeting the requirements for the Armed Forces by proposing models such as AW119, AW109 Light Utility Helicopters, AW 139, and NH-90. The company is planning to have a joint venture with Hindustan Aeronautics for military segment and with Tata in the civil sector.
Finmeccania India Country head, Paolo Girasole, said the company visualises a €10 billion market for 600 military helicopters over the next 10 to 15 years besides upgrades of existing fleet of Seaking and Kamov helicopters. It has pitched NH90 for Indian Navy requirement for 16 helicopters, for which field trials have been scheduled later this year. Hindu