The Navy is planning to procure 110 light utility helicopters, which will be manufactured by an Indian firm in collaboration with a foreign company as part of the 'Make in India' initiative, according to India Today.
This comes at a time when the Russian Kamov-226T, that began its service in 2002, is not meeting the Indian Navy's requirements. A strategic policy had been cleared by government and an Expression of Interest would be issued to the Indian firm by the defence ministry in the next few weeks, the report said.
In September 2014, when the Modi government had just come to power, the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitly, had scrapped a tender of 56 light utility copters.
Russian Kamov-226T – a small, twin engine utility copter — was built in a joint venture between the Hindustan Aeronotics Limited (HAL) and Russia. The aim was to provide 200 of those helicopters to Army and Air force in an attempt to replace Cheetah and Chetak copters. The Navy flies Chetak copters during surveillance and rescue operations.
Indian firms like Mahindra, L&T and Bharat Forge are likely to participate in this tender, while foreign vendors said to be taking part include Airbus Helicopters from Europe, Russian Helicopters, Sikorsky and Bell Helicopter from the US.
The Navy seems to be having a hard time when it comes to procuring new copters. One of the tenders to buy 16 helicopters from American firm Sikorsky was scrapped because of issues related to its price and acquisition delay.
Reports say that the Navy is planning for a fresh tender to get 123 Naval Multirole Helicopters (NMRH) as another Make in India initiative. It is being touted as the one of the biggest helicopter tenders in the world, the reported added.