The David Cameron government on Thursday backed the Anglo-Italian company, AgustaWestland, after India cancelled its contract for 12 helicopters for the Indian Air Force following allegations of bribery.
A government spokesperson said, "This is a matter for the company and the Indian government. AgustaWestland produces world-class helicopters for both the UK Armed Forces and the export markets, including a recent £1 billion contract to supply 16 helicopters plus support and training to the Norwegian government."
Cancellation of the multi-crore deal is likely to adversely affect the company’s operations, including jobs, at its plant in Yeovil, Somerset, where the helicopters were being assembled. Three had been delivered to India while the rest were in various stages of production.
David Laws, education minister and the Liberal Democrats MP from Yeovil, said he would have liked the allegations of bribery to be proved first before cancelling the contract.
He told The Guardian: “In my view it would have been preferable to give time to establish the veracity of the allegations which have been made before taking any action. AgustaWestland has over many years demonstrated its resilience, based on the outstanding quality of the helicopters which it makes.”
Laws said, “I expect the company to go on selling its products all over the world and to show that this setback can be overcome.”
India’s cancellation of the deal is expected to further dismay Britain's political establishment that was disappointed when, in January 2012, India chose the French jet Raphale over the Eurofighter Typhoon in the £6.3 billion contract.
The Typhoon is built by the German and Spanish branches of European aerospace giant EADS, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica.