NEW DELHI :
The Indian Navy on Tuesday invited expressions of interest for strategic alliances between Indian and foreign companies to manufacture naval utility helicopters (NUH) in India, the defence ministry said. Separately, the Indian Army signed a contract with US’ Sig Sauer for 72,400 assault rifles.
The ministry said that 95 of the 111 helicopters should be manufactured in India by the Indian strategic partner. “The project is likely to provide a major boost to the government of India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and give a fillip to manufacturing capability for helicopters in India," it added.
Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters and Bell Helicopters are among those expected to participate in the bidding, the ministry said. Indian companies likely to participate in the bidding are Tata Advanced Systems, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure.
Foreign original equipment manufacturers “have been mandated to set up dedicated manufacturing lines, including design, integration and manufacturing processes for NUH in India and make the Indian manufacturing line a global exclusive facility for the NUH platform being offered," the ministry said.
The defence acquisition council had given its approval for the 111 naval aircraft on 25 August 2018. The helicopters are meant for search and rescue operations, casualty evacuation and light transport. They will replace the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd-built Chetak helicopters. Though the Indian Navy did not give an estimate, the deal could be worth $3 billion.
This is the first time that the defence ministry aims to award a contract under the strategic partnership model, a joint venture between an Indian partner and a foreign manufacturer, according to the statement.
“A contract for procurement of 72,400 assault rifles through fast-track procurement (FTP) was signed with Sig Sauer of US on 12 February," the defence ministry said in a separate statement. While 66,400 assault rifles were for the Army, 2,000 will be procured for the Navy and 4,000 for the Air Force.
The assault rifle should have an effective range of 500 metres and weigh less than 3kg. The entire quantity will be delivered within 12 months from the date of signing the contract, the ministry added.
India aims to modernize its military to narrow the gap with a rapidly growing China, but the pace of Indian defence procurement has been slow, hampered by paucity of funds and tedious procurement processes.