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India had scrapped a deal with American firm Sikorsky for 16 anti-submarine warfare capable naval helicopters as differences persisted between the two sides on the price of the helicopters the Indian Navy intended to purchase.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian defense ministry is soon expected to give its clearance to the Indian Navy's plan for purchasing 24 multi-role helicopters worth $1.8 billion from a foreign vendor.
The Defense Acquisition Council, the decision-making body for defense procurements, is meeting this week where the proposal is to be discussed. The need for a fresh tender has arisen after the Indian government scrapped the 2014 deal with American firm Sikorsky due to persistent differences over the price the helicopters.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, on November 30, said that multi-role helicopters are "most important" but the Sikorsky bid for 16 multi-role helicopters had expired. "The Navy has initiated a new case for 24 multi-role helicopters," Admiral Lanba had said.
The Indian Navy is in dire need of multi-role helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare mission as its incumbent fleet of Sea King helicopters is aging fast. Due to an immediate requirement, the Indian government had decided to go ahead with the deal with Sikorsky for the S-70B helicopters despite a single-vendor situation which is against India's defense procurement policy.
The Indian Navy was expecting that with the acquisition of the S-70B helicopters, the long overdue induction of modern, battle-proven helicopter for anti-submarine warfare and vertical replenishment would be fulfilled. However, the deal had to be scrapped due to pricing issues.
The Indian Navy, in a separate case, has already launched a program for the indigenous manufacturing of 123 naval multi-role helicopters in the 9 to the 12.5-ton category under the Strategic Partnership model wherein an original helicopter manufacturer will partner with a domestic private company to build helicopters in India. Five global manufacturers have responded to the request for information issued by the Indian Navy in August this year, according to the Navy Chief.
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