-- Boeing named preferred vendor for 37 heavy-lift, attack helicopters
-- India, Boeing in commercial discussions for 15 Chinook, 22 Apache helicopters
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By Santanu Choudhury
NEW DELHI--India has selected Boeing Co. (BA) its preferred vendor to supply 37 heavy-lift and attack helicopters to the country's air force, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said Monday.
The air force--in separate deals--plans to acquire 15 Chinook CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters and 22 AH-64D Block-III Apache attack helicopters from the U.S. company, the minister told lawmakers in the lower house of parliament.
Mr. Antony said the "acceptance of necessity cost" for the Chinook helicopters is about 24.68 billion rupees ($457 million) and that of Apache helicopters is about 30.95 billion rupees ($573 million).
He didn't define "acceptance of necessity cost."
The final cost of the orders would depend on the outcome of the contract negotiations with Boeing, Mr. Antony added.
A person familiar with the matter said commercial discussions with Boeing have begun and will likely take a few months more.
Boeing's twin-rotor Chinook was chosen as the preferred bidder over Russia-based MiL Moscow Helicopter Plant's Mi-26, while the Apache was selected over the Mi-28.
The zeroing in of the Boeing helicopters signifies a drastic shift for India toward diversifying its defense purchases and moving away from its decades-long reliance on Russia. India already operates Mi-26 helicopters.
U.S. military sales to India have surged in recent years, helped by growing diplomatic relations between the two democracies and due to India's push to replace its aging Soviet-vintage equipment as neighbors Pakistan and China expand their military capabilities.
In the past few years, Boeing has received orders from India to supply C-17 Globemaster airlifters as well P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and antisubmarine aircraft for several billion dollars. India also purchased Super Hercules C-130J military-transport planes from Lockheed Martin Corp.
New Delhi plans to spend about 1.93 trillion rupees on defense in the financial year through March 2013, an increase of 13% from last year. It has earmarked 795.79 billion rupees to buy new weapons.
Write to Santanu Choudhury at email@example.com