AgustaWestland fall-out over other deals?

By SP's Special Correspondent

March 04, 2013: The VVIP helicopter controversy could impact or delay other ongoing acquisition programmes of the Indian armed forces, already nervous by the potential repercussions. It so happens that the Indian Navy is likely to be the hardest hit in the event of an adverse action taken by the MoD vis-a-vis AgustaWestland or Finmeccanica. Acquisition programmes for 91 multi-role helicopters for the Indian Navy in two separate programmes (16 + 75) could be delayed, even though the first procurement for 16 is at the final stage just before opening of commercial bids.

AgustaWestland has announced interest in participating in the Navy's recently announced naval utility helicopter (NUH) programme. Whether that goes through now remains to be seen. A question mark also hangs over deals already struck with Finmeccanica subsidiaries like Oto Melara and others, or with current programmes up for renewal, for instance deck guns and torpedoes. The Indian MoD is understood to have conducted an internal assessment of its processes, and is shortly to receive a Comptroller Auditor General report on the procurement of AW101 helicopters. The results could dictate how and whether the Indian Government continues to do business with AgustaWestland and other Finmeccanics subsidiaries and partner companies.