(Reuters) – Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), is keen to sell VVIP transport helicopters to the Indian government, a company executive told Reuters.
India cancelled a $770 million deal for 12 VVIP helicopters – used to carry high-ranking officials – with Italian defence group Finmeccanica’s (SIFI.MI) AgustaWestland unit last year over a corruption scandal.
Industry sources in India expect a new tender this year. Sikorsky, which pitched its S-92 helicopter but lost to AgustaWestland in the initial tender, could take part once again.
“We told the Indian government we have great VVIP helicopters and we are ready to support you,” said Robert Kokorda, vice president of defence systems and services at Sikorsky, at the Aero India show in Bengaluru.
“If they issue a request for information, we’ll evaluate it and we’ll be ready,” Kokorda said.
India needs 12 helicopters to replace its Russia-made Mi-8 aircraft. After the cancellation of the AW101 order, it modified some of its Mi-17 helicopters for VVIP missions.
Russian Helicopters could also bid for a new contract using Mi-17s while Airbus Helicopters could enter the fray with its EC225. Russian Helicopters declined to comment while Airbus Helicopters executives could not be reached.
In May 2014, Sikorsky won an initial $1.24 billion contract to develop and build six U.S. presidential helicopters, the first step toward a fleet of 21 new aircraft by 2023. It has built all US presidential helicopters since 1957.
Last year, an Italian court sentenced former Finmeccanica Chairman and CEO Giuseppe Orsi to two years in jail for falsifying invoices in a corruption case linked to the cancelled Indian deal. Former AgustaWestland head Bruno Spagnolini was also sentenced to two years in jail on false invoice charges, but acquitted of the corruption accusations.
(Editing by Susan Thomas)