AgustaWestland: If Jawans can fly in Indian choppers why not the VVIPs, asks Air Marshal Pandey

Bengaluru, Apr 29: There was a time when the Indian politicians would travel in the India made Ambassador. Today they find the need to upgrade their mode of transport and will not settle for anything less than a fancy foreign made luxury vehicle. The same could be said about the VVIP chopper AgustaWestland.

Air Marshal (retd) B K Pandey says that day in and day out jawans and senior officers travel in choppers that are locally made. The VVIPs could also travel in a HAL made chopper.

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'VVIPs could travel in HAL choppers'

Why do they need an AgustaWestland? Are they trying to indicate that their lives are more precious than that of our officers and jawans?

Was the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper required

Not many countries opt for the AgustaWestland chopper as the cost is very high. India needed a platform for VVIPs as they were flying the MI8. We had nothing else and did not want to shift the newly inducted MI17 for VVIPs.

When the move started the Indian Airforce said that for VVIPs a new chopper needed to be procured as the MI8 would be phased out says Air Marshal B K Pandey.

There is no doubt that the AgustaWestland chopper is very good. However it is extremely expensive and the deal could have been avoided.

There was a time when the VVIPs would travel in the Indian made Ambassador. The VVIPs can very well travel in an Indian made chopper too, Pandey also adds.

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What is the solution?

Air Marshal Pandey argues why the VVIPs could not travel in an Indian made chopper. Day in and day out our officers and jawans fly in choppers made by the HAL. Are you trying to suggest that their lives are not precious enough?

"The government could have told the HAL to make a VVIP model of the advance light chopper Dhruv. This is a fairly successful programme. We have invested a humongous sum of money in programmes of HAL. The problem here is that we have no respect for our own products.

Trust me HAL would have moved heaven and earth to produce a VVIP chopper. They would have grabbed the opportunity and done a very good job. Moreover it would have been a question of ego too and they could have produced a great product." he said. 

Further they would have also invited help from abroad and produced a state of the art model which would have not only been India's pride, but also much cheaper than AgustaWestland.

The trouble however is that for these politicians it is an ego issue. Just look at the way in which many of these state heads are sourcing imported vehicles are exorbitant costs. Is it is necessary to spend this kind of money? We need to first respecting our own products, Air Marshal Pandey also adds.

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