Indian Navy sets ball rolling to buy 234 multi-role, utility copters
The defence ministry on Tuesday issued two requests for information to global vendors for naval utility helicopters (NUH) and naval multi-role helicopters (NMRH).
The navy plans to acquire 111 NUHs and 123 NMRHs to replace older helicopters and plug gaps in its capabilities.
The NUHs will replace vintage Chetaks while the other choppers will be a replacement for older Sea King variants. Both projects will be pursued under the Make in India plan.
Navy officials said the multi-billion dollar projects would be covered under the Defence Procurement Procedure’s strategic partnership model aimed at bringing high-end military technology into the country.
The model lays down the template for partnership between Indian companies and foreign military contractors to build platforms such as helicopters, fighter planes, submarines and armoured vehicles in India.
“We are dealing with an acute shortage of helicopters and these projects are very critical,” a navy officer said.
Navy sources said the majority of India’s 140 warships were operating without choppers. The government had withdrawn a previous tender for importing 56 NUH as it wanted to execute the project under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Moreover, in June this year, the defence ministry had scrapped a ₹6,500 crore deal for buying 16 naval multirole helicopters from the United States after its hard bargain on price with foreign firm Sikorsky to cut down project cost fell through. That deal was first commissioned in 2009.