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Finmeccanica attracts India with advanced technological presence

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NH-90 helicopter.

BANGALORE (BNS): Finmeccanica, an Italian group with companies in aerospace, defence, security, energy and transport, is looking at establishing new partnerships with government and private players to expand its base in India.

The company has been operating in India for over 40 years.

“We have a long relationship with Indian armed forces and we also have been developing business and partnerships with Indian industries. We have a significant outgoing business here,” said Geoff Russell of AugustaWestland.

In the last four decades Finmeccanica has developed long term relationships with Indian partners and participated in many pioneering projects, including supplying radar and communications systems, military and civil helicopters, civil aircrafts and naval systems.

“India seems a very important growing market,” the senior official added.

Finmeccanica currently has partnership with Indian companies like Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited. The company also shares private space with companies like Tata Sons and HCL.

This year at Aero India 2011, AugustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica is showcasing its prowess in the helicopter arena to the Indian armed forces with confidence of clinching major contracts.

AugustaWestland has been present in India since 1970, supplying Sea King helicopters to the Indian Navy. Last Year in February, the company was awarded a defence contract by the IAF for the procurement of 12 AW101 helicopters. According to the official the delivery of first batch will begin in 2012 and will be used for government duties.

AugustaWestland is also expanding its presence in the commercial sector. In the last 5 years, it sold over 50 commercial helicopters in India- mainly for offshore, oil & gas, corporate transport and to the state government. The company has also expanded many service centre networks in India. According to the Geoff Russell, forecast says that in the coming 5 years, the helicopter fleet is going to double in India and the company sees a very good market in India.

India already has four commercial helicopters in service with them. They are namely, AW 119, AW 109, Grand and AW 139.

Recently the company signed a joint venture with Tata Sons for the creation of Indian Rotocraft Ltd. The MoU for the JV was signed two years ago and the actual agreement in 2010. The newly established facility in Hyderabad will indulge in assembling, customising, flight testing and finally delivering the AW119 helicopter not only to India but also worldwide.

The aerospace company is also one of the bidders alongwith Sikorsky Corporation for the Indian Navy’s multi-role helicopters (MRH) contract. AugustaWestland has submitted its proposal to Indian Navy for the supply of NH-90 helicopters. On the other hand, the US firm is offering its S-70B Sea Hawk. Indian Navy is yet to pursue the Flight Evaluation Trials for the two contenders.

Indian Navy has also signed a recovering programme contract with AugustaWestland for the refurbishment of seven Sea King helicopters. The company plans to bring them back to service. Six helicopters have already been refurbished, according to the senior official.

AugustaWestland is also offering its fleet of naval helicopters, ranging from 3 tonne AW 109 upto 16 tonne AW 101, to the Indian Coast Guard. Other two helicopters which are included are 6 tonne AW 139 and 11 tonne NH 90.

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