Almost two years after issuing an initial request for information, India's Ministry of Defence has issued an Expression of Interest for the supply of 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) as part of a strategic partnership; it is shortlisting domestic as well as foreign firms. These helicopters are slated to replace the Chetak fleet and will be utilised for search and rescue missions, low-intensity maritime operations, sub-surface targeting and communication duties.
"95 helicopters out of 111 will be manufactured in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner," a statement issued by the Indian Navy reads while declaring that 16 of the helicopters are to be delivered by a foreign manufacturer in flyaway condition within five years of signing the contract.
The remaining 95 helicopters are to be delivered within six to 13 years of the contract's signing.
The foreign manufacturers most likely to participate in the project are Lockheed Martin (US), Airbus Helicopters (Europe), Bell Helicopters (US) and Russian Helicopters (Russia). It's specified that about 60% of each helicopter should be produced domestically through the NUH project.
"The helicopter manufacturers have been mandated to set up a dedicated manufacturing line, including design, integration and manufacturing processes for NUH in India and make the Indian manufacturing line a global exclusive facility for the NUH platform being offered," the Indian Navy statement adds.
Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure are the probable Indian companies that are likely to participate in the process. The Indian companies would be shortlisted based on their capability of system integration, facility in the aerospace domain and financial capabilities.
The RFP for procurement is likely to be issued towards the end of the third quarter of this year to the shortlisted Indian companies.