Friday, October 4, 2013

AW initiates arbitration proceeding - The clock is ticking

Posted by Neelam Mathews
Oct 4, 2013

The AW 101 saga just doesn't go away. The issue is complicated, creating challenges for the IAF and AW. Air Chief NAK Browne replying to a query by AerospaceDiary today said how spares for the 3 AW 101 VVIP helicopters would last just for a few months. And then what? Nobody knows.

Even as trials in Italy continue on the AW deal , Agusta Westland is getting fidgety. While we can't blame them given that more helicopters are ready for delivery and the contract has a provision for bilateral discussions, India is playing the 'wait and see'  game.

MoD might have its reasoning,though I can never understand why they do not as a form of sheer courtesy, ever reply to emails or telephone calls. Here's what an Agusta Westland release today, reads-

"Following the suspension of the contract to supply AW101 VVIP helicopters to India – a sanction not provided for the under contract – a request was made to India's Ministry of Defense by Agusta Westland in April 2013 invoking the contractual provision for bilateral discussions. Since then there have been a series of further requests for discussions. Regrettably, to date, there has been no response from India's MoD. 

The company’s earnest desire is to have a dialogue with the Indian authorities. AgustaWestland remains totally committed to working with the Government of India to resolve the issues confronting us and to allow the Indian armed forces to receive the equipment they need. However, we do not see how we can achieve this if a dialogue is not established. The ongoing need to resolve this issue has left AgustaWestland with no other option but to invoke arbitration through Counsel; the next step prescribed by the contract. This is not a step we take lightly.

While the arbitration proceedings themselves are confidential, the issues in question relate to the unilateral suspension of the contract. Neither the contract nor the associated Integrity Pact confers such rights on the Indian MoD.

AgustaWestland is justly proud to have served the Government of India for more than 40 years. We want our relationship with India to continue and flourish and consequently we remain deeply concerned at the current situation."

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