AgustaWestland stays upbeat on Indian AW101s despite corruption probe

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AgustaWestland remains hopeful that it will eventually hand over the remaining VIP-roled AW101s ordered by India, despite New Delhi having halted deliveries pending the result of an inquiry into corruption on the deal.

So far the Indian air force has received three helicopters from its 12-unit order and is continuing to fly them. However, a further three examples of the type are ready for delivery, with another six aircraft in an advanced state of completion.

Ray Edwards, managing director of AgustaWestland UK, says he believes the two parties will come to an agreement covering the outstanding helicopters.

"We are trying to negotiate a win-win situation through co-operation and dialogue," he says.

And when asked if he thinks the remaining nine rotorcraft will be handed over, he says: "I would like to think so, yes. That's what we are working to fulfil."

India's Central Bureau of Investigation opened a wide-ranging corruption probe in March focusing on the 2010 deal, alleging that bribes had been paid to secure the contract.

However, Indian commentators suggest the inquiry is politically motivated and may disappear after the country's general election next year.

The scandal has already claimed the head of Finmeccanica, chief executive Giuseppe Orsi - who was in charge of AgustaWestland at the time - and that of Bruno Spagnolini, his successor at the helicopter manufacturer. Both men are currently on trial in Italy accused of fraud and corruption. The pair deny the charges.