Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bell Helicopters pulls out of Indian RFP for Gunship helicopter

Three vendors had submitted their proposals in response to the Request for Proposal (RFP) relating to procurement of Attack Helicopters for the Indian Air Force that had been issued on May 23, 2008. During technical evaluation, it was found that all the three proposals did not comply with all the requirements stipulated in the RFP. Hence, the RFP was withdrawn on March 09, 2009. A fresh RFP has already been issued on May 25, 2009.

The American company Bell Helicopters has decided not to participate in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process for acquisition of 22 attack helicopters for the Indian Air Force, sources have confirmed. The RFP, issued in May 2009, was the first RFP to be issued by the new UPA government in its second term in office.

"The AH-1Z helicopter model that Bell was hoping to field for the RFP process is currently undergoing operational evaluation for the US Marine corps. It will not be possible to field it and therefore Bell has decided to opt out of the RFP process. The AH-1Z helicopter model is a new upgraded helicopter and the operational evaluation process in the US is not yet over. So therefore, Bell will not be participating this time," sources said. Sources added that United States embassy in New Delhi would be informing the Indian ministry of defence about the exit of Bell from the RFP process.A fresh RFP was issued in May 2009 after the earlier RFP — issued in 2008 to various vendors — was "withdrawn" by the MoD earlier in 2009 on the grounds that qualitative requirements had not been met.

Interestingly, Bell Helicopters had opted out of the previous RFP process as well since the Indian government had (earlier) insisted on direct sale of the equipment from it. Bell was in a position to supply the helicopters only through the foreign military sales (FMS) programme of the US government since the Bell attack helicopters are being used by the US Navy. Ironically, the government, in the new RFP, is learnt to have permitted acquisition through the foreign military sales (FMS) programme of the US government in case an American vendor is selected after the bidding process. The amendment would have now made it possible for Bell to sell its copters but this time the concerned Bell helicopter model is undergoing operational evaluation with the US armed forces and is hence unavailable.

The fresh RFP in May is believed to have been issued to five vendors, Italian-owned Agusta Westland, American companies Bell Helicopters and Boeing, the European Eurocopter and the Russian Kamov. The other American company Boeing is still in the RFP race.


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