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US hopeful of bagging Indian attack helicopters order

November 11
03:11 2011

WASHINGTON: Though the US lost out in the race to sell fighters to India, its armament companies are claiming to be front-runners for New Delhi’s new tenders for attack helicopters and heavy lift choppers.

“I have advocated for our tenders (by India) in the Attack Helicopter and Heavy Lift Helicopter competitions,” Andrew J Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, said, adding that “We are hopeful that both will be selected.”

The American companies, Boeings AH-64 D Apache, Sikrosky black hawk and Bell’s Super Cobra are in contention for USD 600 million tender to sell 22 attack helicopters. The other bidders are Russia with its MI-28 N Night hunter and Eurocopter.

The trials and evaluation of the tenders are already at an advanced stage with competitors participating in desert trials in Rajasthan and snow trials in Siachen.

According to aviation sources, the Russians and European armament giant EADS are probably out of the hunt.

The American companies are also front-runners in the Indian tender to purchase 15 heavy lift helicopters. The new helicopters are to replace Russian-acquired MI-26.

The US Assistant Secretary said he attended Aero India show in February to advocate for US defense sales.

“While India unfortunately did not down-select a US aircraft for its Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, I believe our relationship with India is much more than one sale,” he said in his remarks to the Defense Trade Advisory Group.

“We seek a stronger strategic partnership with India, including the promotion of Indian acquisition of US defense equipment. This effort has led to India’s acquisition of ten C-17 aircraft and a request for six more C-130J aircraft,” the US Assistant Secretary said.

Shapiro said despite the tough global economy, demand for US defense sales abroad remains robust. For four consecutive years, US Foreign Military Sales or FMS have exceeded USD 30 billion.

Foreign military sales increased by approximately nine per cent from last year, he said.

“The other component of US arms sales, Direct Commercial Sales or DCS, is also increasing. Based on the first three quarters of this year, we anticipate that by the end of the year, the State Department will have received and reviewed over 85,000 DCS cases – the largest ever,” he noted.

The US official argued that defense sales by America helps promote stability.

“In today’s interconnected world, the most urgent threats to global and regional stability stem not only from powerful states, but also from ones that are weak or are unable to adequately secure their sovereign territory. Our defense cooperation is helping to better equip countries across the globe to deal with new and emerging challenges,” he said. -PTI

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