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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Centre sets ball rolling for Rs 21,738-cr indigenous naval chopper project

The helicopters are expected to have an indigenous content of 60%.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2019 14:20 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The navy said the outdated Chetaks have to be replaced by new choppers “as early as possible”.
The navy said the outdated Chetaks have to be replaced by new choppers “as early as possible”. (HT FIle Photo)

The central government on Tuesday invited expressions of interest (EoI) from local and foreign firms for building 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) in the country to replace the navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak choppers, a navy spokesperson said.

The NUH project is worth Rs 21,738 crore.

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the NUH project last August under the government’s strategic partnership (SP) model that seeks to provide impetus to the Make in India programme.

The SP model envisages local manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner, which will collaborate with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to set up production facilities in India.

Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said the Indian companies likely to take part in the contest are Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure. He said the OEMs likely to participate are Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopters, and Rosoboronexport.

“The navy is monitoring the project closely and the effort is to replace the Chetaks as early as possible,” Sharma said.

The Indian companies have been asked to respond to the EoI in two months, while the OEMs have been given three months “due to the nature of inputs required.”

“The OEMs have been mandated to set up a dedicated manufacturing line, 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,” he said.

Indian firms would be shortlisted factoring in their capability of system integration, facilities in the aerospace domain and financial strength, he said, adding that the request for proposal would be issued later this year to the local firms that make the cut.

“The navy is in desperate need of different types of helicopters, including the NUH. All our major warships are designed to carry two choppers, but we are struggling to keep those hangars occupied. I think the NUH is coming in pretty late but better late than never,” said Vice Admiral Pradeep Chauhan (retd), director, National Maritime Foundation.

The helicopters are expected to have an indigenous content of 60%. As part of the NUH project, 16 choppers would be bought in a flyaway condition from the foreign OEM, and the remaining 95 will be built in the country.

The SP policy stipulates that “a minimum number of platforms, not exceeding 10-15% of the units being procured, may be manufactured on the premises of the original equipment manufacturer”.

The navy uses such choppers for search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, communication duties, anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations, humanitarian assistance and surveillance and targeting.

First Published: Feb 13, 2019 14:19 IST