Millennium Post

Indian Navy choppers bid delayed, firm protests

India's bid to buy 16 multi-role helicopters worth over $1 billion for its navy has been hit by delays after the defence ministry recently asked the two competing firms to extend their commercial proposals till Dec 31.

Soon after, the commercial bids were extended by the two firms, European consortium NH Industries (NHI) wrote to the defence ministry reiterating its objections to letting US company Sikorsky continue in the tender, claiming its product had failed in meeting the requirements.

Defence ministry sources told IANS here that NH Industries and Sikorsky were asked to extend their commercial bids till December just before the validity of their proposals, made less than two years ago, had expired in July.

NHI has offered its NH90 platform, while Sikorsky is competing with the S70B helicopter. After the two competing helicopters had qualified the field evaluation trials held November last year, the Indian Navy had submitted its report to the defence ministry, which is now in the process of decision-making.

However, soon after the two companies were asked to extend their bids, NHI's official Julien Negrel wrote to Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and other top Indian defence officials questioning the validity of Sikorsky's bids and its selection after the evaluation trials, claiming it had not complied with the naval staff qualitative requirements (NSQRs) laid down in the tender documents.

This is the second time the NHI had objected to letting Sikorsky continue in the bids, having done so early this year in a letter to Defence Minister A.K. Antony after its previous communication sent to the defence secretary December last year reportedly got no response.
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