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Navy Utility Helicopters to be Made in India: Ministry of Defence issues EoI

The Ministry of Defence has issued Expression of Interest (EoI) for short-listing of potential Indian Strategic Partners and foreign OEMs for procuring Rs 21,738-crore 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) for the Indian Navy where 60% of the helicopter will be indigenised.

This is in line with the approval the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had given for “platform-specific” guidelines for the purchase of 111 naval utility helicopters under the ‘Strategic Partnership’ model to replace the Navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak choppers.

Indian companies including Tata Advanced Systems Ltd., Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure are likely to participate in the process. The foreign OEMs expected to participate include US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopters of the US and M/s RoE.

The DAC had discussed and approved implementation guidelines for key projects under the model to boost the indigenous defence sector and ensure timely delivery of military equipment. These helicopters will be replacing Chetak Helicopters and utilised for albeit SAR, CASEVAC, LIMO, passenger roles and torpedo drops.

According to the Indian Navy, 95 helicopters out of 111 will be manufactured in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner under Make in India initiative of the government. Once the NUH project is finalised, 16 helicopters will be bought in a flyaway condition from a foreign military contractor, and the remaining 95 will be built in the country in partnership with an Indian firm.

While the MoD and Indian Navy website is hosting the request for EoI from Indian private companies for participating in the project and the EoI from foreign OEMs has been forwarded to companies that had participated in the RFI (Request for Information) discussions.

These OEMS have been authorised to set up dedicated manufacturing line, including design, integration and manufacturing processes for NUH in India and make Indian Manufacturing Line as a global exclusive facility for the NUH platform being offered.

The Indian Companies have been given two months to respond to the EoI, and the foreign OEMs have been given three months for responding due to the nature of inputs required.

The down select of the Indian companies will be based on their capability of system of system integration, facility in the aerospace domain and financial capability. And once the detailed responses have been received, the MoD will issue the RfP towards the end of third quarter.

The Strategic Partnership (SP) Model is expected to give a push to several big-ticket projects, including those for building next-generation submarines, fighter planes and helicopters in the country. According to the MoD all the procurements under the SP would be executed by specially constituted Empowered Project Committees to provide focused attention and ensure timely execution.

The Indian Navy will use these helicopters for search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, communication duties, anti-piracy and anti-terrorism operations, humanitarian assistance, surveillance and targeting.