Defence

Past and Future Projects, Local Partners: A Look at Finmeccanica’s Role as Defence Contractor

While a major part of the debate will continue to revolve around the allegations more questions still need to be answered with regard to defence purchases and how the government should treat Finmeccanica as a defence contractor.

helicopters_Finmeccanica

Finmeccanica subsidiary NH Industries has offered its NH90 helicopters to the Navy for the role. Credit: www.finmeccanica.com

New Delhi: Finmeccanica, a 13-billion euro Italian industrial conglomerate, which was first thrust into mainstream debate in 2013 when allegations arose that it had bribed Indian government and air force officials to secure a contract, has once again stepped into the spotlight.

While a major part of the debate will continue to revolve around the allegations of corruption levied against the Congress party leaders and former IAF chief S.P. Tyagi, more questions still need to be answered with regard to defence purchases and how the government should treat Finmeccanica as a defence contractor. The Wire looks at the role that the Italian conglomerate has played as a defence contractor in India, through the categories of projects it undertook before the AgustaWestland scandal broke, its bidding with local partners and future projects that it is eyeing.

Past Projects

76 mm naval guns: In India for the last four decades, Finmeccanica had also been involved in supply of equipment to several navratna companies. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., for example, has been building naval guns under license from Finmeccanica’s unit, Oto Melara.

Indigenous Aircraft Carrier: Finmeccanica subsidiary Selex ES was also involved in the supply of RAN-40L 3D air surveillance radars for the 40,000 tonne IAC which was under construction at Cochin Shipyard.

Upgrade of torpedoes: Its subsidiary WASS had in 2010 bagged the contract to upgrade the 128 A244 lightweight torpedoes on all 13 operational submarines.

Railway contracts: In 2009, Finmeccanica’s signaling and railway traffic management unit Ansaldo STS bagged contracts from the Indian

Railways  for train protection system, signalling and communications.

Projects through a third party

Rafale jets: While India initially wanted to develop 126 of these jets from Dassault Aviation of France, it has since scaled down the demand to just 36. MBDA, in which Finmeccanica had invested, was a key weapons supplier for the Rafale jets. It was the supplier of MICA and meteor air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles Shadow/SCALP and maritime superiority missiles Exocet for these aircraft.

Future projects and projects with local partner

Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH) for the Navy: Finmeccanica subsidiary NH Industries has offered its NH90 helicopters to the Navy for the role.

Assembling of AW 119 helicopters:  AgustaWestland had also tied up with Tata Sons to form Indian Rotorcraft Ltd. to assemble the choppers. In 2015, after two years of hanging in limbo, the Foreign Investment Promotion Board finally cleared the proposal.

127mm guns for India’s warships: India was also looking at Finmeccanica, the sole vendor for these guns, after BAE Systems opted not to offer its 5-inch. (127mm), 62-caliber Mk. 45 Mod 4 Naval Gun System.

Medium-range maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft program: Alenia Aermacchi, a unit of Finmeccanica, was pitching its ATR-72MP maritime patrol turboprop aircraft for this contract.

C-27J medium-sized airlifter:  Alenia Aermacchi was also offering its airlifter for replacing the Avro-748 with 56 transport aircraft.