New Delhi: Bell Helicopters, a unit of US-based Textron company said on Friday it will not participate in a bid to supply 22 attack helicopters to India’s air force in a deal worth more than $1 billion.
In May, India invited bids to five vendors, including Bell, Boeing Co and Eurocopter, a subsidiary of European aerospace and defence group EADS for the helicopter deal.
“We were planning to offer our AH-1Z Cobra to the air force, but since it is still undergoing an operational evaluation, we have decided not to participate,” a Bell official said in New Delhi.
Boeing, keen to offer its Apache AH-64 helicopters, said on Friday that it was still internally reviewing the tender details issued by the government before taking a final decision.
India is looking to spend more than $30 billion over the next five years to modernise its defence systems.
But its plans to overhaul and replace its fleet of military helicopters amid growing security risks in the region, especially after last November’s Mumbai attacks, has been dogged with pullouts and cancellation of tenders.
Last June, India asked seven international companies to submit bids for supplying 22 attack helicopters, but the government cancelled that tender this March, saying the bidders did not meet requirements. A fresh tender was issued in May.
India relies on an ageing fleet of Russian MI-25 and MI-35 helicopter gunships designed by Russia’s Mil.
In 2007, India scrapped advanced talks with Eurocopter to supply 197 lightweight Fennec military helicopters worth $600 million after complaints about the bidding process.
Eurocopter is a sister company to Airbus, the world’s largest civil jet maker, also owned by EADS.