Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Gives Green Signal To Procure 111 Utility Helicopters For The Navy
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Gives Green Signal To Procure 111 Utility Helicopters For The NavyA Sea King Helicopter with the Indian Navy (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

In a significant decision, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has given her stamp of approval to the long pending proposal for the procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 21,738 crore.

These 111 utility choppers will replace the Navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak helicopters.

The move assumes significance as a majority of the 140 warships of Indian Navy are operating without utility helicopters.

Utility helicopters are used for search and rescue operations besides other purposes such as medical evacuation, communication duties, anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations, humanitarian assistance, surveillance and targeting.

The ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AoN) to the critical project was accorded by Sitharaman at the meeting of the Defence Acquistion Council (DAC) on Tuesday (31 October).

While 16 helicopters will be procured in fly away condition from the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM), the remaining 95 will be manufactured in India under the strategic partnership model.

The procurement of the helicopters will be the first major acquisition project under the strategic partnership model that was unveiled by the government in May this year

Under the strategic partnership model, selective private firms and foreign entities would team up to jointly manufacture military platforms such as helicopters, submarines and fighter jets in India.

The government will now start the process to identify a foreign helicopter maker and an Indian defence firm for a joint venture for the project.

The Navy had released the request for information (RFIs) for 111 Utility choppers in August as per which the utility helicopters being bought in flyaway condition should be supplied within five years of the contract being signed, and the remaining between five and 13 years of the contract under the “make category” (Make in India).

The DAC has also approved AON for nine Active Towed Array Sonar Systems (Advanced) for the Indian Navy which will cost Rs 450 crore.

The Towed Array Sonar Systems (Advanced) will be fitted on the modern navy vessels which will enhance submarine detection capabilities in them.

In addition the above AONs, other ongoing projects were discussed.

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