The President and Prime Minister will soon enjoy the same protection and comfort in the air as the US president.
The government is on the verge of clearing a $300 million deal to purchase 12 advanced VIP helicopters from Italian armament major Augusta Westland. Owned by Finmeccanica, the Italian firm had fielded the EH101 — whose variant, US101, serves the US President — to compete for the Indian tender floated some two years ago.
Defence Ministry sources told HT the proposal for buying the helicopters will be put before the cabinet committee on security shortly.
The deal will be clinched before the end of this fiscal , sources confirmed. Based on the contract schedule, the first helicopter is likely to join the air force fleet around 2011. The US Navy has selected the US101 for a new fleet of ‘Marine One’ helicopters for its president.