Former Indian Air Force chief SP Tyagi refuted the view that helicopters manufactured by AgustaWestland were not a viable option for transporting VVIPs, a First Information Report filed in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation has said. Tyagi, who was arrested by the CBI last week in connection with the case, also allegedly tweaked the operational flying ceiling requirements for choppers, to favour the United Kingdom-based firm, The New Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

In its FIR, the CBI alleged that the Air Force had approved the reduction of the operational ceiling requirement following approval from Tyagi. This came despite opposition to the move “on the grounds of security constraints and other related reasons”, the CBI said. The reduction had allowed AgustaWestland, whose helicopters were disqualified in 2002, to re-enter the competition process for securing the contract from the Indian government, according to the FIR.

In 2004, the IAF had told the Defence Ministry that a low service ceiling meant that VVIPs would not be able to access high-altitude areas such as the Leh Valley and the Siachen Glacier. The CBI alleged that Tyagi and colluded with his cousins to favour AgustaWestland, which led to the “softening of the IAF stand on the issue of service ceiling of the helicopters”. Tyagi’s cousins received money from defence middlemen involved in the deal for their work.

On Saturday, a Delhi court granted the CBI four-day custody of Tyagi. Tyagi was arrested on Friday along with Delhi-based lawyer Sanjeev Gautam Khaitan and Sanjeev Tyagi for allegedly accepting kickbacks to influence the purchase of 12 VVIP AgustaWestland helicopters. The CBI said the deal was worth Rs 3,767 crore, of which 12% was paid in bribes.

However, the former Air Force chief has continued to deny all allegations made against him. His counsel has claimed that it was the Prime Minister’s Office that had recommended changing the ceiling height of the VVIP choppers, which was allegedly modified so that AgustaWestland could get the contract.