Procurement: Hundreds of AS550s Head for India


October 13, 2007: India is buying 197 AS550 light helicopters for its army. The 2.8 ton, single engine choppers will cost about $3 million each. The AS550 is one of the most popular light military helicopters available, with over 3,000 sold, so far, to over 70 countries. The AS550 is a military version of a civilian helicopter, which is a common way to produce a reliable, inexpensive combat aircraft. Max speed is 215 kilometers an hour and max range is 650 kilometers. The helicopter has a one or two man crew, and can carry four passengers, or half a ton of weapons (a few dozen rockets, missiles, or a machine-gun pod) or sensors. An antisubmarine version can carry a lightweight torpedo.

The AS550 is particularly good at high altitudes, which was important for India, which has many troops operating in the Himalayas. The manufacturer, Eurocopter, also has a good reputation for service and support.

The U.S. selected to similar Bell 407 as its new light helicopter (the ARH70). This chopper costs twice as much, mainly because of more extensive electronics. Problems getting all that gear working together has delayed the delivery of the ARH-70).




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