Bell-Boeing offers VIP V-22 to India to replace AW101

Bell-Boeing offers VIP V-22 to India to replace AW101

27-Jan-2014 Source: HeliHub.com

Bell has offered the V-22 Osprey to India in the wake of the not-yet-finalised AW101 debacle.

The AW101 situation is far from over. India finally agreed to appoint an arbitrator on 1st January, almost three months after AgustaWestland took the same step when India unilaterally decided to suspend the contract. According to AgustaWestland, there is no provision in the contract for suspension, and they consider India to be in breach of contract from that point onwards.

Many column inches – column miles, in fact – are being written about the AW101 situation in the Indian press, and a good proportion of it has clearly been plucked out of the air. If you look at the Indian press as a whole, both print and visual media, the journalists there are clearly confused. In the same week, it is quite common to find completely opposing facts being written about the same situation – and it is this that has led HeliHub.com to be overly cautious in our coverage. Quite how some aviation journalists are validating their facts before they run stories in their own publications and websites makes us wonder.

With the background of the local press interest in what may replace the AW101, it is no surprise that Bell-Boeing have suggested the V-22. The manufacturer joint venture clearly want to be surfing the Indian press wave to get their name up in lights. They also want the V-22 to be seen as an aircraft which can fulfil many different roles, and VVIP is certainly one they would like to promote. The US Marine Corps do have at least one painted in US Presidential fleet colours (see top of this story), but it is not used by President Obama as far as we are aware. Press outlet DNA reported on Monday 20th that the Indian Air Force are to upgrade some of a batch of Mi-17s for VVIP work, and do not intend pursuing a new VVIP tender in the foreseeable future. It is rather ironic that the Mi-17 was rejected for the VVIP project back in 2006 after manufacturer Rosoboronexport declined to sign the Integrity Pact which formed part of the tender documents. That aspect is further compounded how that “integrity” is central to AgustaWestland’s current situation. Sikorsky was the only other manufacturer that responded to that VVIP Request For Proposals with the S92, but was not chosen.

We await with interest what will happen with the various helicopter manufacturers at the four-day DEFEXPO 2014 starting February 6 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Various military contracts are either in play or suspended for one reason or another. There’s a Navy contract for 16+ helicopters, an Army deal for 197 scout helicopters which has been suspended more than once, and while it appears that VVIP deal for 12 helicopters has been shelved, its press profile means that the manufacturers will use the Defence Expo as an opportunity for PR purposes as a minimum.

We asked Bell for a statement on this story and they declined by citing the FMS rules, saying “The Bell Boeing team continues to field interest from various international governments and is poised to support the U.S. government in foreign military sales of the V-22 Osprey. Any sale of the Osprey for use by Indian military would result from a government to government transaction. ” and then pointed us in the direction of the US Dept of Defense.

Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com

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