Navy to get 111 utility helicopters worth Rs 21,000 crore, also 24 multi-role choppers

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New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) The government on Saturday approved procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore in a significant decision under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model that seeks to boost the ‘Make in India’ programme.

The decision was taken at the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The DAC cleared procurement proposals worth about Rs 46,000 crore including anti-submarine capable 24 Multi Role Helicopters (MRH), 14 Vertically Launched Short Range Missile System and 155 mm advanced towed artillery gun system.

“The DAC, in a landmark decision today, approved procurement of 111 Utility Helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore. This is the first project under the MoD’s prestigious Strategic Partnership model that aims at providing significant fillip to the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme,” an official release said.

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The SP model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian Strategic Partner, who will collaborate with foreign original equipment manufacturer, acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the country.

The SP model has a long-term vision of promoting India as a manufacturing hub for defence equipment, enhancing self-sufficiency and establishing an industrial and research and development (R&D) ecosystem, capable of meeting the future requirements of the armed forces.

The contract, when finalised, is expected to result in a widespread defence industrial eco-system in the Indian aviation sector with the private industry and MSMEs as major stakeholders.

While 16 helicopters are expected to be procured in a fly-away condition from a foreign vendor, the remaining 95 would be built in India by an Indian partner through joint ventures. The utility helicopters are expected to replace the aging fleet of Chetak helicopters.

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Those expected to compete for the Naval Utility Helicopter programme include firms from the US, Europe and Russia. The utility helicopter programme is expected to pave the way for several big-ticket projects, including for building modern submarines, fighter planes and helicopters in the country.

The government has identified four segments for acquisition under Strategic Partnership route – fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armoured fighting vehicles and main battle tanks.

The DAC also approved procurement of anti-submarine capable 24 Multi Role Helicopters, which are an integral part of the frontline warships like aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes.

The MRH would contribute to the Navy’s anti-submarine, anti-ship warfare and airborne early-warning capabilities.

“Availability of MRH with the Navy would plug the existing capability gap,” the release said.

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The DAC cleared procurement of 150 indigenously designed and developed 155 mm advanced towed artillery gun systems for the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 3,364.78 crore.

These guns have been indigenously designed and developed by DRDO and will be manufactured by production agencies nominated by DRDO. They are likely to be the mainstay of artillery in the near future.

Of the 14 Vertically Launched Short Range Missile Systems cleared for procurement by the DAC, 10 systems will be indigenously developed.

These systems will boost the self-defence capability of ships against anti-ship missiles.

–IANS

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