IAF to open bids for heavy choppers, tankers (Lead)

September 20th, 2012 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Sep 20 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) would soon open bids for heavy-lift helicopters and flight fueling tankers and finalise bids for 22 Apache attack choppers, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne said Thursday.

“We are going to very shortly open bids for 15 heavy-lift helicopters and six flight fueling tankers. We are also negotiating for the Apache 22 attack choppers, as the bids have already been opened,” Browne told reporters on the margins of a defence event.

For the heavy lift helicopters, the Boeing is pitching for the IAF order with its Chinook (CH-47) as a replacement for the Russian Mi-26 choppers.

Airbus with its multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and the Russian IL-76 are in the race for the air-to-air fuelling tankers.

“We are negotiating with Boeing for buying 22 Apache choppers this year. Negotiations are also on to acquire four additional aerostat radars from Israel for detecting and tracking low-flying aircraft,” Browne said.

The air chief, who was here to receive the first Brazilian Embraer aircraft fitted with the indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C;) atop, admitted that the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was behind schedule in getting the initial operational clearance (IOC).

“I reviewed the LCA project recently. There have been some delays. We are, however, trying to catch up on time so that we can at least get IOC by next year,” Browne added.

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