The Union Defence Ministry on August 25, 2018 gave its approval for the acquisition of 111 utility helicopters for Navy at an estimated cost of over Rs 21,000 crore. The Ministry also approved separate procurement proposals worth nearly Rs 25,000 crore.
The proposals were granted approval during a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the ministry's highest decision-making body on procurement, chaired by Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
• The procurement of the naval utility helicopters will be the first project under the ambitious strategic partnership (SP) model that provides for roping in private firm to build select military platforms in India in partnership with foreign defence manufacturers.
• The utility helicopters will be used in attack missions as well as for search and rescue and surveillance operations.
• The DAC also granted approval to other procurement proposals worth Rs 24,879.16 crore, which include one on buying 150 indigenously designed and developed 155 mm advanced towed artillery gun systems for the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 3364.78 crore.
• These gun systems have been indigenously designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and will be manufactured by production agencies nominated by DRDO.
• The DAC also approved a proposal to procure 24 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRH), which will have the capability to engage in anti-submarine warfare. The helicopters are an integral part of frontline warships such as aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes.
• Besides this, the DAC also approved procurement of 14 vertically launched short-range missile systems, among which 10 will be indigenously developed. The systems will help boost the self-defence capability of ships against anti-ship missiles.
• The Indian Navy had issued a global Request for Information (RFI) in August 2017 for procurement of 111 utility and 123 multi-role helicopters.
• The navy, in fact, has been pushing the government for several years to procure new utility and multi-role helicopters to bolster its existing capability and replace its ageing fleet of choppers.
• The government had also issued an RFI for it in 2011, as well as in 2013.
• In May 2017, 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.
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