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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG.

In 2021, India formally lifted the ban on Italian firm AgustaWestland and its parent company Leonardo, paving the way for them to take part in multiple ongoing projects and bid for upcoming defense contracts. In 2014 India had shelved the contract because the pre-contract integrity pact had been breached and started converting 350 million Euros of bank guarantees, AgustaWestland has now given in writing that it has foregone this bank guarantees not in any way as an admission of any wrongdoing or liability but as one of the conditions of the Indian Government.

But India has in its storage 3 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters that are still parked in the IAF’s hangars in New Delhi’s Palam base. Inducted in 2013, they quickly were mothballed and kept in storage after AgustaWestland was banned. IAF had to preserve them due to lack of spares from the vendor but still has the infrastructure and trained pilots who can get them back in service if spare supplies resume and complete overhauls are carried out after being non-operational for nearly 8 years.

idrw.org has been told that to make them operational again it will require vendor monitored complete deep overhaul of all three helicopters at the OEM facility which is usually reserved for mid-life so that they can be recertified and made flight worthy. While the deal was for the 12 VVIP Helicopters, operating only three will also make them more expensive to operate and these helicopters are much suited for ferrying of VVIPs rather than being used for Utility purposes.

The likely option that might happen is to return them to the OEM and it seems an agreement between AgustaWestland might happen soon on their return which will clear paths for AgustaWestland to participate in future defense procurement requirements in India.

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