Deal with Indian Army for choppers still on: Eurocopter

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (UNI) Eurocopter today denied reports that its 197 helicopters deal estimated at 600 million dollars with the Indian Army has been called off.

Speaking to reporters here, Eurocopter's Senior Vice-President (Asia-sales) Norbert Ducrot said, ''We have received no official statement regarding the cancellation. There is no official information.'' When asked about the Defence ministry scrapping Eurocopter's successful tender for the helicopters and a new bidding process will be launched soon, Mr Ducrot said the company had received no such statement. ''From our side the deal is on,'' he added.

A part of European aerospace major European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), Eurocopter was to supply 197 helicopters to the Indian army.

Eurocopter had been contracted to sell 60 complete helicopters to the Indian army, while the remaining 137 were to be assembled at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in the country.

Earlier this month, the Indian Defence Ministry said it would request fresh bids in two or three months without assigning a reason, even as price negotiations were on with Eurocopter.

Media reports had quoted defence sources saying the deal had collapsed due to a violation of bid terms by Eurocopter and the illegal use of middlemen to push it.

''As far as we are concerned, all trials have been approved by the Indian ministry of defence,'' said Mr Ducrot.

Eurocopter was dealing directly with the Indian defence ministry for military contracts and had no middlemen, in strict compliance with the policy banning brokers in arms deals, he added.

When asked about if contract would be signed during French President Nicholas Sarkozy's visit, Mr Ducrot replied, ''I am always optimistic.'' The US-based Bell helicopter unit of Textron Inc was the other contender for the deal, which was floated in 2001 and given to Eurocopter in February this year.

UNI

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