AgustaWestland’s plans to assemble helicopters in India are on course. In a joint venture with Tata Aerospace, AgustaWestland has approval to start a facility called Indian Rotorcraft Ltd (IRL) for assembly of AW-199Kx helicopters in Hyderabad Aviation SEZ.
In a statement issued Thursday, the Ministry of Defence stated that “On 07 February 2012, an industrial licence for the manufacture of helicopters was granted by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) to Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. However, the validity of the licence has since expired.” This was for the IRL proposal, approved by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) on September 2, 2011.
The IRL, however, says that the proposal approved in September 2011 was for AW-119Ke helicopters, but the model was upgraded to AW-199Kx and fresh approval was granted by FIPB on September 19, 2013. The approval for the assembly unit at IRL was granted by FIPB in October 2015. The industrial licence, which was issued by DIPP in 2012 for two years, has expired and the company has already applied for it again.
“IRL will export the assembled helicopters to AW for it to sell to its customers. IRL business remit does not include any selling activity for defence related entities. There are no other joint ventures with AgustaWestland or its subsidiaries,” an IRL spokesperson told The Indian Express.
The joint venture is yet to begin operation. The spokesperson remained non-committal on investments and the expected timeframe for the rollout from the Hyderabad facility.
AgustaWestland was among six companies named in the FIR registered by the CBI probing the VVIP chopper deal.
Blaming the Congress for “not debarring” AgustaWestland from participating in defence deals, the Ministry of Defence, in a statement, said it was the “present government” which, through a July 2014 order, “put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases” in the pipeline pertaining to AgustaWestland.
“Publicly available information on the procurement of AgustaWestland helicopters clearly shows that the core issue in the matter is corruption. The present government has taken effective action to bring out the truth and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing all means to bring to justice the corrupt and the wrongdoers in this case,” the Ministry said.
“The contract for supply of 12 helicopters signed with AWIL on 8th February 2010 was terminated with effect from 1st January 2014. The main reason was breach of the provisions of the pre-contract integrity pact and breach of terms of contract by AWIL. However, the company was not debarred by the said order… It is the present government which through its order dated 03 July 2014, put on hold all procurement/acquisition cases in the pipeline of six companies figuring in the FIR registered by the CBI,” the Ministry said.