After Agusta, Pilatus deal may come under scanner

New Delhi, May 5 (IANS) Even as the political heat generated by the AgustaWestland chopper deal is yet to die down, some more defence deals may come under the scanner, including one on Pilatus basic trainer aircraft, defence ministry sources said on Thursday.

India inked a deal for buying 75 PC-7 Mk II training aircraft from Swiss aircraft manufacturer Pilatus in 2012, ignoring the American Beechcraft T-6C Texan II and the South Korean KT-1 aircraft.

According to the sources, the South Korean government had then lodged an official protest with the ministry over the selection of Pilatus as the “lowest bidder”.

A ministry official said collecting information on the AgustaWestland chopper deal, however, remained the government priority, and that a list of officials involved in the deal was being prepared.

The official said the list would be handed over to the investigation agencies for further probe.

A fiery debate on AgustaWestland was witnessed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, where Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that flying altitude and cabin height criteria were changed that led to a single vendor situation after which AgustaWestland was chosen.

The minister said the trials were not even conducted on the AW-101 chopper India was to buy, but on a different representative chopper.

–IANS

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