New Delhi: Plans of IAF and the Army to replace their fleet of ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters with 197 new light choppers have hit a roadblock with the
Department of Defence Finance raising objections over the field evaluation trials in the tender.
The induction of these 197 choppers, of which over 130 will go to the Army and the remaining will be operated by the Air Force, has already been delayed by over four years as a previous tender in this regard had to be cancelled at the last
stage after certain problems in the process.
Trials in the tender were completed with European Eurocopter AS-550 Fennec and Russian Kamov-226 Sergei at different locations by December last year.
Sources said the Defence Finance wing raised objections over the trial process where one of the requirements in the tender to land at a helipad at over 15,000 feet and take off the next day without external power was not fulfilled.
The trials conducted by Army showed that they were held at 12,000 feet as it did not have a helipad at 15,000 feet altitude, they said.
Defence Ministry officials said the objections raised by the Defence Finance were "minor" and the contract would progress further in "near future".
The tender to procure these 197 choppers has been marred by delays earlier also as the winter trials were held almost six months after schedule.
One of the three companies to receive the RFP was Agusta Westland and was ejected out of the race by the Army due to its non-compliance with service requirements.