The Indian Air Force (IAF) trials for an estimated USD 2 billion order for 22 attack and 15 heavy lift helicopters have been held up because the Russian contenders in the two shortlists have failed to arrive in India.
Senior IAF officials said on Monday that for reasons that were, as yet, unclear, the Russian Mil Mi-28 and the Mi-26 helicopters had not been cleared to come to India for trials. The trials for both categories of aircraft began in July.
IAF officials have chosen not to label this a delay and deny they’ve set any deadline for the Russian aircraft to arrive for trials, even though this could put the two acquisition contests in limbo. Boeing’s Apache AH-64D attack helicopter and the Chinook heavy lift helicopter are the other aircraft in the competition.
The IAF would, presumably, want to prevent the process of acquisition of the two types of aircraft from being jeopardized by the withdrawal of the Russian helicopters from the contest. Under the Indian Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP), any contest which results in the survival of only a single vendor is vitiated and the process has to be restarted.
The trials of both the Apache and Chinook helicopters have been completed. The weapons trials phase for the Apache helicopter ended last week in the United States.