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Army to wait further for its 197 choppers

The tender, which was floated in 2008, got marred after allegations that a Brigadier, involved in the acquisition process, had sought kickbacks from Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland to swing the deal in its favour.

The allegations are being probed by CBI. AgustaWestland could not qualify on technical grounds at the trial stage, leaving European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov in the race for the tender which was already scrapped once in 2007.

The validity of the bids submitted by the two firms has been extended till June 30 this year, sources said here. As per the earlier timelines, their validity was to expire in December last month.

On January 4, the CBI registered a case against the Brigadier and unknown officers of the Army and Defence Ministry after the agency received a fresh set of documents from Italian police. Army Aviation is looking at buying 197 light helicopters to replace its ageing Cheetah/Chetak fleet which undertakes reconnaissance and casualty evacuation operations in forward locations and high-altitude areas like Siachen.
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