India: Bell To Withdraw From Attack Helo Trials

bell-helicopterNEW DELHI – Bell Helicopter will withdraw from India’s competition to purchase 22 attack helicopters for the Air Force. Sources close to the company here said Bell will not be able to spare the helicopter for trials as it is still in the evaluation stage.

According to Indian Defence Ministry rules, the vendor has to field its weaponry and equipment for trials in India and bear all the cost of trials. This stipulation has not been accepted by some foreign vendors in the past.

The Air Force reissued a bid in May, canceling the earlier bids issued in 2008, which allowed sale of the helicopters through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. FMS could have assisted a Bell sale.

The fresh bids in May were sent to Italian-owned AgustaWestland, U.S. companies Bell Helicopters and Boeing, the European Eurocopter and the Russian Kamov.

The Indian Air Force requires attack helicopters that have an empty weight of about 2,500 kilograms and they must have two engines. The helicopters must be highly agile, have advanced anti-armor capability and should be able to operate in temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees Celsius to plus 55 degrees Celsius and humidity up to 95 percent.

bellThe helicopters must include a turret gun of at least 20mm caliber, be able to fire rockets of 70mm or higher caliber with a range of at least 1.2 kilometers, and be able to employ air-to-ground missiles that have a range of at least seven kilometers.

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