British firm AgustaWestland’s chopper AW-101 allegedly bagged the Rs. 3,600 crore VVIP choppers supply deal without undergoing the mandatory Field Evaluation Trials (FET) conducted in 2008 by the Indian Air Force.
The firm’s two representative choppers, with their mock-up passenger cabins, had attended the exercise and not the actual contracted chopper in violation of the norms, found Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s probe.
AgustaWestland did not provide the AW-101, unlike its closest competitor American firm Sikorsky, which did, since “AW 101 was still in its developmental stage in January-February 2008 when the FET happened,” said a CBI source.
The FET was conducted by the air force in United Kingdom (for AgustaWestland) and United States (for Sikorsky) despite there being allegedly no compelling emergency to not conduct them in India, said the source.
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These irregularities related to FET were also mentioned in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report.
Responding to the alleged irregularities as mentioned in the CAG report, AgustaWestland had said in a media statement, “AW’s FET was conducted on two actual AW101s.
The Merlin MK-3A used in the FET is in service with the Royal Air Force — Merlin is the RAF’s name for AW101. CIV-01 is a name adopted for the civilian AW101. Notwithstanding, representative aircraft are often used in FETs.
For the Indian Navy Multi Role Helicopter FET, Sikorsky used a number of different helicopters, whereas the NH90 was the “actual helicopter”.
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