₹22,000-crNavycopter project gets the nod

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

The Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved of the deal   -  V_Sudershan

111 helicopters to be acquired, 95 to be manufactured under ‘Make in India’

The Ministry of Defence approved acquisition of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) in a ₹21,738-crore deal for the Indian Navy under the Strategic Partnership (SP) policy.

The deal, which has been pending for almost seven years, was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman, here on Tuesday, according to Defence Ministry sources.

“DAC approved the 111 Naval Utility Helicopter for Navy under Make in India,” an official told BusinessLine.

According to sources, while 16 will be bought in fly-away condition, the remaining 95 choppers will be manufactured at a later stage in India under a joint venture by a private sector Indian defence firm in collaboration with a foreign helicopter maker. The RFI (Request for Information) for the project was issued in August and global OEMs have been asked to respond to it by November 15. The earlier deadline to respond to the RFI was October 15, which was later extended, sources added.

The RFI categorically mentions that apart from having capabilities such as search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), the choppers should be able to carry light weight anti-submarine torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

Navy’s requirements

The procurement will be done keeping in mind the Navy’s growing requirements in fighting threats across the Indian Ocean from Chinese forces.

Although initial demand of the Navy is for 111 NUH, there are chances of a future expansion, sources said.

Some of the frontrunners for the project are Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd. that had announced a tie-up with European Airbus with their AS565 MBe Panther military chopper. Airbus Helicopters has plans to set up a global production line for Panther helicopters in India.

A similar arrangement has also been announced by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) and US-based Bell Helicopters offering Bell 429 helicopters. TASL also has tie-up with Sikorsky.

Yet another competitor for the project is Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) with Russia’s Rosoboronexport.

“This is a landmark project because for the first time this will create large private sector rotary platform OEMs. The consequential benefits of a progressively indigenised supply chain will not only create a robust private sector ecosystem, but it will also position India as a potential exporter of the platform,” said Rahul Gangal, Partner (Aerospace and Defence), Roland Berger.

Published on October 31, 2017

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