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US firm bags contract for Navy’s 16 multi-role choppers

The six-month-old NDA government has finally resumed the process of arms acquisitions. In a significant development, the United States’ Sikorsky has bagged the contract for Indian Navy’s Rs 6,000-crore proposal for acquisition of 16 multi-role Seahawk S-70B helicopters for its warships, official sources said on Friday.

Seahawk S-70B can be used for advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare to take on underwater and over water threats.Defence Ministry sources said the commercial bids were opened on Thursday and since the US firm was the only company left in the fray after the “partial ban” European company Finmeccanica, it emerged as the winner.

The “partial ban” was imposed on Finmeccanica, the parent company of AgustaWestland that is involved in a Rs 3,550 crore VVIP helicopter deal controversy, in August this year.

While imposing the ban on it, the Defence Acquisition Council had in August said it would not be able to take part in any future defence deals. Finmecccanica was part of consortium European NH 90 which had made a bid for the deal.

“It was a global tender and in the end only two made the cut. But since, one firm came under a ban in another deal before the commercial bids were opened, Sikorsky has emerged as the winner,” a defence source said adding this is not a single-vendor situation. Sources said the negotiations would be fast tracked as the helicopters are much needed for the Navy. They added the Navy expects the first helicopter to be commissioned in three years from now.
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