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AAH Advanced Attack Helicopter

BellAH-1Z SuperCobra
BoeingAH-64D Apache
EurocopterTiger HAD
MilMi-28 NE
HALLight Combat Helicopter
The Indian Air Force (IAF) sought to acquire 2.5 tonne twin-engine helicopters. The aircraft are intended to replace the ageing Mil Mi-25 and Mi-35 fleets. The helicopter was to be highly agile with advanced anti-armor capability, and include provision for a turret gun of 20mm or higher calibre and be able to fire 70mm rockets at a range of 1.2 kilometers. The IAF wanted the helicopter to be able to employ air-to-ground, fire-and-forget missiles with a range of at least seven km, fitted with state-of-the-art electronic warfare protection suite and carry a radar warning receiver capable of intercepting, identifying and prioritising multiple airborne and ground-based radio frequency emitters. Other requirements include all-weather, all-terrain, day-and-night operations capabilities.

The contract was to take effect by 2010 and be completed by May 2011. The 22 attack helicopters were to be bought at a cost of USD 25 million per platform, including weapons. The vendor was expected to provide a 30 per cent offset working out to USD 165 million of the total cost of USD 550 million. The May 2008 RFP stipulated that two helicopters should be supplied within 24 months of signing the contract, with final delivery in 36 months.

In May 2008 the Defence Ministry sent the Request for Proposals (RFP) to AgustaWestland, Boeing, Eurocopter, Khazan and Bell Helicopter. Initially seven companies participated in the tender: AgustaWestland's AW129, Bell's AH-1Z SuperCobra, Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow, Eurocopter's Tiger HAD, Kamov's Ka-50, Mil's Mi-28 NE and the national Hindustan Aeronautics's Light Combat Helicopter.

Boeing, which offered its AH-64 Apache, refused to submit a bid when the government denied the company's request for an eight-week extension to the August 2008 deadline to submit their proposal. Bell withdrew from participation, since its AH-1Z Cobra was available for exports only through the Foreign Military Sales route. The AH-1Z Cobra is no longer in production, and thus only available through government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deals based on the conversion of existing airframes. India had insisted that it would procure the helicopter directly from the company.

This left four companies in the running: Italian-British AgustaWestland's AW-129, European consortium EADS Eurocopter's Tiger, Russian Kamov's Ka-50 and Mil's Mi-28. Only three companies' finally offered helicopters: Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Kamov submitted bids by the August 2008 deadline.

On 24 March 2009 the Defense Ministry retracted the tender issued in May 2008 for the purchase of 22 attack helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The government would initiate a new tendering process to procure the helicopters. The Request for Proposals (RFP) was retracted and cancelled as the three offers received from foreign companies did not meet the Staff Qualitative Requirements set by the government. Consequently, the IAF's plans to operationalise the 22 attack helicopters beginning 2010 could be delayed beyond 2012.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress on 22 December 2010 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of India of various engines, equipment, weapons, training, parts and logistical support for a possible Direct Commercial Sale of 22 AH-64D Block III Apache helicopters. The complete package is worth approximately $1.4 billion.

The Government of India requested proposals from several foreign suppliers, including the United States, to provide the next generation attack helicopter for the Indian Air Force. In this competition, the Government of India has yet to select the Boeing-United States Army proposal. This notification is being made in advance so that, in the event that the Boeing- U.S. Army proposal is selected, the United States might move as quickly as possible to implement the sale.

If the Government of India selects the Boeing-U.S. Army proposal, the Government of India would request a possible sale of 50 T700-GE-701D engines, 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars, 12 AN/APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometers, 812 AGM-114L-3 HELLFIRE LONGBOW missiles, 542 AGM-114R-3 HELLFIRE II missiles, 245 STINGER Block I-92H missiles, and 23 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensors, rockets, training and dummy missiles, 30mm ammunition, transponders, simulators, global positioning system/inertial navigation systems, communication equipment, spare and repair parts; tools and test equipment, support equipment, repair and return support, personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support to be provided in conjunction with a proposed direct commercial sale of 22 AH-64D Block III APACHE Helicopters. The estimated cost is $1.4 billion.

This proposed sale would contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia.

The proposed sale in support of AH-64D helicopters would improve India’s capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats. This support for the AH-64D would provide an incremental increase in India’s defensive capability to counter ground-armored threats and modernize its armed forces. India would have no difficulty absorbing this helicopter support into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support would not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors would be Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida; General Electric Company, in Cincinnati Ohio; Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensor in Owego, New York; Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, Florida; and Raytheon Company in Tucson, Arizona. There were no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

In October 2011 the the Ministry of Defence (MoD) accepted Indian Air Force (IAF) trial report evaluating the Boeing AH 64D Apache and Russian Rosoboronexport’s Mi 28N Night Hunter. RIA Novosti news agency reported from Moscow that the Mi-28N had lost the competition, and quoted an Indian source as saying that the US helicopter “showed better performance” while the Mi 28N did not meet the requirements.

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing has won a $1.4 billion deal to supply India with 22 helicopter gunships, beating off competition from Russia's Mil Mi-28, the Times of India reported on 21 August 2012. Only the Boeing AH-64 could meet all the Indian armed forces' air staff qualitative requirements, the paper said. "It's just a matter of time before the contract is inked for the Apaches after final commercial negotiations. Most of the hurdles have been cleared,'' a defense ministry official told the paper. The deal would also include advanced AN/APG-78 fire control radars for the Apaches as well as Hellfire anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.

Officials familiar with the way the tendering for attack helicopters was going noted that after tests had been carried out at the end of 2010 on the client’s territory and in the country of manufacture, including firing exercises using the helicopter’s weapons, the Indian side preferred the “Apache”. Thus a representative of the Western Air Command in Delhi stated that “both machines worked excellently, but at the same time the American one showed superiority in such key features as greater capacity and all-weather use”.

Russian specialists familiar with the Mi-28N say that it also possessed all these qualities in full measure. The fact that the Mil machine had only just begun to enter service with the Russian army, they explained, and that it would be more than a year before it can be supplied to India, while the “Apache” had been in production for many years and there would be no problems in procuring it, was another matter. This fact was evidently also a consideration in Delhi when they were deciding who had won the tender.

What’s more, the Indians’ principle of “not putting all their eggs in one basket” also played its part. They are diversifying the military procurements. And in view of the fact that Delhi had recently acquired 80 Mi-17 multipurpose helicopters from Moscow and is preparing to acquire another batch of similar machines, the outcome of the tender for attack rotary-wing aircraft was no great surprise for the Russian side, especially as it was hoping to win in other similar contests.

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Page last modified: 04-12-2015 18:24:00 ZULU