Rebutting CAG’s findings in the Rs. 3,727-crore VVIP chopper deal, AgustaWestland has claimed the alteration of the cabin height and other specifications in the tender did not result in a single vendor situation.
In a letter written by its India head Jackie Callcut to CAG Shashikant Sharma, the Anglo Italian firm has claimed that the alteration of cabin height requirements from 1.45m to 1.8m did not lead to the ejection of any competing aircraft, as stated in the government auditor’s report.
It also claimed that had the service ceiling of the competing choppers been 6,000 m, it would have met the requirements as it had informed the Air Headquarters about its capabilities in a letter written in June 2005.
“The cabin height requirement of 1.8m did not lead to ejection of any competing aircraft. All aircraft met or exceeded this requirement,” the letter said.
In its report tabled last month, the CAG slammed the Defence Ministry and Air Force for “several instances” of deviation from rules in the procurement of VVIP choppers in the AgustaWestland chopper deal signed in 2010.
On the cabin height requirements, the CAG had said the “fact remains that by making the cabin height of 1.8m a mandatory requirement, the competition was restricted, resulting in a single vendor situation.”
On the CAG observation that the flight evaluation trials of the AgustaWestland choppers were carried out on representative choppers and not the military versions, the firm stated that it had offered “actual” aircraft which are being flown by the armed forces of the UK.
On CAG’s observation that AgustaWestland had provided only representative choppers for trials to the IAF as the AW-101 was still under development, the Anglo-Italian firm said, “AW-101 is not an aircraft still under development.
“AW-101 entered service in 1999, it is deployed with 16 operators in 12 countries and is battle proven in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan.”
The CAG in its report had stated that IAF allowed varying methodologies for the trial evaluation of the S-92 and AW-101 choppers, which was in contravention of the directions from the Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
Ms. Callcut has stated that through her letter, she wanted to offer help in further analysis, if any, in the programme.
The firm has attached letters written by it to the Technical Manager (Land Systems) Air Vice Marshal Rajesh Lal in 2005 stating that its choppers could be modified to be operated at 6,000m level.
The firm is facing the prospect of cancellation of its deal with the IAF after the arrest of its former CEOs in Italy for allegedly paying bribes to swing the deal in its favour.
The CBI is investigating the case and has questioned former IAF Chief SP Tyagi and his three cousins for allegedly colluding with the middlemen of the Anglo-Italian firm to help it in the contract.