The United States has expressed strong interest in participating in India's tender for attack helicopter and heavy-lift helicopters despite the snub it received earlier this year in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition, according to a top official.
In remarks to the Defense Trade Advisory Group, Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro said, “I have also advocated for our tenders in the Attack Helicopter and Heavy Lift Helicopter competitions. We are hopeful that both will be selected.”
Earlier, the Indian Air Force was reported to have floated tenders for 22 combat and 15 heavy lift helicopters.
Among the U.S. contenders in the race would be Boeing's Apache, for combat, and the Chinook, for heavy-lift.
The reportedly $550 million-tender aims to replace India's ageing helicopter fleet and trials were said to be on in the hot, humid deserts of Rajasthan and the icy Himalayan heights of Ladakh and Leh.
Mr. Shapiro reflected upon his attendance on February last at the Aero India show, an event at which he said he advocated for U.S. defence sales.
“While India unfortunately did not down-select a U.S. aircraft for its MMRCA competition, I believe our relationship with India is much more than one sale,” he said.
Suggesting that Indian acquisition of the U.S. defence equipment was woven into the fabric of a stronger U.S.-India strategic partnership, Mr. Shaprio said that recent evidence of the U.S. efforts in this regard was India's acquisition of 10 C-17 aircraft and a request for six more C-130J aircraft.