August 10, 2008 12:33:50 am
After getting a foothold in the South American market, India has bid successfully to get its second international contract for three Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) for an estimated $ 20 million from Turkey amidst stiff competition from global players.
The contract, finalised by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Saturday, comes weeks after India made its debut in the international helicopter market by winning a $ 50 million order for seven indigenously built ALH for the Ecuadorian Air Force.
HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja confirmed that an Indian delegation in Turkey finalised the deal and the initial order of three helicopters is expected to go up further. The Indian Aviation giant will start delivering the three machines within six months.
“It was a very difficult country to sell to and we have made a breakthrough. This (the three helicopters) is the first lot and we are hoping to sell more. Turkey is planning to buy more helicopters in several phases,” Baweja told The Indian Express.
While he didn’t disclose the value of the deal, it is expected to be over the $ 20 million mark. Sources said Turkey is planning to buy around 17 ALH helicopters over the next few years and the total value of the deal could be close to $150 million.
What makes the success even more special for HAL is that its helicopter won the bid in the presence of American giant Bell that was also in the fray. Turkey is also known to have traditional preference for US made defence products.
After suffering a series of setbacks — it lost the race to supply 12 utility helicopters to the Chilean Air Force in January and the contract was bagged by American Bell 412 helicopter; and then failed to get a contract from Malaysia — the ALH seems to have made a mark in the international market.
It had won the Ecuador contract amidst competition from Elbit (Israel), Eurocopter and Kazan (Russia), and with Turkey in the bag, will look forward to contracts in the Latin American market where it is the frontrunner in several trials.The USP of the helicopter is its price that is sign ificantly lower than its competitors.
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