The CBI’s probe into the Rs. 3,600 crore VVIP AgustaWestland choppers deal has revealed that the Indian air force had initially stoutly contested the premise of single-vendor situation that led to the reduction of the service ceiling, which allegedly helped the accused firm bag the deal.
“It was maintained by a section of then top public servants that the framing of the mandatory requirements, including the service ceiling, had effectively led to a single-vendor situation. It was therefore recommended to the air force that the service ceiling should be relaxed to 4,500 m,” said a CBI source.
The reduction in March 2005 of the service ceiling — the mandatory height of flying capacity — from 6,000 m to 4,500 m allegedly allowed the accused firm AgustaWestland to come into the fray since otherwise their chopper, with its flying-height capacity of only 4,572 m, did not qualify for the bidding process.
Later, in March 2005, however, the air force agreed to reduce the service ceiling. AgustaWestland has rejected allegations of wrongdoing on its part.