Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) VP marketing Shmuel Eckhouse signed an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) of India a few days ago to jointly develop an attack helicopter.
This is the first agreement of its kind arising from the closer Israeli-Indian defense relationship.
IAI competed against Elbit Systems (Nasdaq: ESLTF) and France's Eurocopter in the HAL tender. IAI will participate both in the helicopter's development and marketing around the world.
The agreement follows IAI's strategic cooperation agreement with HAL to develop joint projects in India, Israel and third countries.
The project is called the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). HAL will manufacture the fuselage, while IAI will be responsible for developing its avionics and other advanced systems through its subsidiaries. The helicopter will probably use French-built engines.
The ALH is designed for attack, intelligence gathering and anti-tank and anti-submarine operations. The first customer will be the Indian Army, which is expected to order over 300. Each helicopter will cost about $4.5 million.
The ALH project is one of the joint projects with HAL under consideration by IAI.
IAI and HAL hope to interest other armies in addition to supplying the Indian Army. Israel is not expected to buy the helicopter, since the Israel Air Force uses only US-built attack helicopters, such as the Apache and Cobra.
Several countries, mainly in the Third World, have expressed interest in the ALH, including Vietnam, Nepal, Malaysia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Development of the ALH will probably be completed by 2004-05.
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on September 26, 2002