India Kicks Off $3 billion Programme for Acquiring 111 Naval Utility Helicopters

This is the first project under the ambitious Strategic Partnership Model

Issue: 1 / 2019By Vishal ThaparPhoto(s): By Airbus, Bell Helicopter, Sikorsky, Russian Helicopters
Airbus AS565 MBe Panther

India’s ambitious Strategic Partnership Model for producing top-end military platforms kicked off in the right earnest on February 12, with the commencement of the process to shortlist potential Indian partners and foreign technology providers for the procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) for an estimated 22,000 crore ($3.12 Billion).

This is the first project under the Strategic Partnership Model, which gives the Indian private sector an opportunity to manufacture military platforms in collaboration with foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers. So far, manufacture of military platforms and major defence equipment has taken place only in the public sector.

The Indian companies which are likely to bid for selection as Strategic Partners are Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure.

Bell 429

The Government provisionally intends to throw up manufacture of fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armoured vehicles/main battle tanks under this Model.

A Request for Expression of Interest (EoI) was issued by the Ministry of Defence to kick start the NUH procurement. The Indian companies which are likely to bid for selection as Strategic Partners are Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure.

While the invitation for Indian companies to bid is open and broad based, the foreign OEMs invited to participate as technology collaborators are Lockheed Martin and Bell of the US, European Airbus Helicopters and Russian Rosboronexport (Russian Helicopters). For the OEMs, the invitation is restricted to those companies which participated in the RFI process. The EoI to these foreign OEMs was handed over to their authorised representatives, while the document inviting bids by Indian companies was posted on the Ministry of Defence website.

Lockheed Martin S-76D

Of the 111 helicopters to be acquired under this process for the Indian Navy, 95 are to be manufactured in India with at least 60 per cent indigenous content

Of the 111 helicopters to be acquired under this process for the Indian Navy, 95 are to be manufactured in India with at least 60 per cent indigenous content. These helicopters will replace the legacy Chetak fleet and utilised for torpedo drops, search and rescue, casualty evacuation and passenger roles.

The case was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on August 25, 2018. “The project is likely to provide a major boost to Govt’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and fillip to manufacturing capability for helicopters in India,” the Ministry of Defence stated in a press release.

Kamov Ka-226T

The Indian companies would be shortlisted based on their capability of system of system integration, facility in the aerospace domain and financial strength.

The OEMs have been mandated to set up a dedicated manufacturing line, including design, integration and manufacturing processes for NUH in India, and build up the Indian Manufacturing Line as a global exclusive facility for the helicopter on offer.

While Indian companies have been given two months to respond to the EoI, the foreign OEMs have four months to respond in view of more detailing that is required from them.

The RFP or tender for procurement is likely to be issued towards the end of third quarter of this year to the shortlisted Indian companies.