Tata Motors Friday said it is likely to sign an agreement with the Indian Army for the sale of 3,192 Safari Storme SUVs after the Christmas holidays to replace the iconic Maruti Gypsy that has been serving the land forces for decades.
"We are now exchanging first draft of the contract. We hope that after the Christmas holidays we will be able to sign it," Vernon Noronha, Vice-President, Defence Business, Tata Motors Ltd, said here.
He said the Army was looking for a vehicle with a hard top that runs on diesel and has climate control.
"Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra were the last two to be in the fray and when the envelope opened, we gave a better deal to the Army," he said adding that they have finished with the contract negotiation committee meetings.
While the initial number of vehicles is just 3,192, the Army has over 35,000 gypsies to be replaced.
"We have set our eyes firmly on that," Noronha said.
The Tata Motors official added that if the Army wants any variants, the company will be happy to provide.
Tata Motors is also eyeing the nearly Rs 70,000 crore project for future infantry combat vehicles (FICVs) for the Army.
Two of the five private contenders in the fray, apart from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), will be selected for building the prototype.
The government will fund 80 per cent of the development cost.
The best prototype will then be selected for mass production.
The contenders are L&T, Mahindra, Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering and two consortium of Tata Motors-Bharat Forge and Tata Power SED-Titagarh Wagons.
Once signed, this will be the second major order for Tata Motors this year. They had got a Rs 1,300 crore deal in January to supply high-mobility military trucks for the Army.