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).