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The Indian Navy on Tuesday issued global request for information (RFI) for procurement of 111 utility and 123 multi-role helicopters under the recently- launched strategic partnership model for defence procurement.
Official sources said the RFI has been issued to identify original equipment maker for both the utility helicopters as well as multi-role choppers which are being procured as part of the Navy's modernisation plan.
The procurement of both categories of choppers totalling 234 would cost the government in excess of $15 billion, according to experts who said that these two contracts could be one of the largest globally in recent times.
They said the defence ministry is likely to soon issue RFI to select the Indian defence manufacturer which will join hands with the foreign entity or entities (OEMs) for production of the choppers as mandated under the strategic partnership (SP) model.
The last date to respond to the RFI issued today by the Navy is October 6.
The Naval Multi Role Helicopters (NMRH) are being procured particularly to enhance the Navy's anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities.
The Navy has been pressing the government to procure new utility and multi-role helicopters to add teeth to its existing capability and replace its ageing fleet of choppers but the procurement process has seen years of delays.
The government had issued RFI for it in 2011 as well as in 2013.
In May, the defence ministry had finalised the SP model under which select private firms will be roped in to build military platforms like submarines, fighter jets and choppers in India in partnership with foreign entities.
The policy envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian defence majors through a transparent and competitive process wherein they would tie up with global OEMs to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.
Initially, the strategic partners will be selected in four segments - fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armoured fighting vehicles/main battle tanks. It is expected to be expanded to other segments at a later stage.