The Indian Navy has shortlisted the names of four Indian firms, namely, Tata, Adani, Mahindra Defence Systems and Bharat Forge, which would be its strategic partners for the project involving a deal worth almost Rs 25,000 crore for indigenous manufacturing of 111 Naval Utility Choppers.
At the beginning of the year, the defence ministry had invited private sector companies to participate in this multi-crore deal, which will be the first project to kick off under the strategic partnership (SP) policy under Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
“The four Indian firms will now need to partner with foreign original equipment manufacturers including European Airbus Helicopters which has offered two choppers, American Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin and Russian Rosoboronexport,” sources in the Navy told ANI.
The Navy will now approach the Defence Acquisition Council with the shortlisted names of both Indian and foreign manufacturers to get the approval from the government and take the process forward.
Indian Navy sources have also confirmed that a total of eight Indian companies had shown interest in becoming strategic partners, which included a public sector undertaking but only four have been shortlisted by the force which will use the new choppers to replace its fleet of Cheetah/Chetak helicopters.
In August last year, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore as the first under the SP model. “SP model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner, who will collaborate with foreign OEM, acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the country,” the ministry had announced.
Under the plan, the first 16 helicopters have to be delivered from the OEM’s overseas production facility and the remaining 95 helicopters are to be manufactured in India by the selected strategic partner.