M777 howitzers
India is looking to buy M777 howitzers to strengthen its Navy. [Representational Image] 

At a time when India-China relations are at a very sensitive point considering the Doklam standoff,  India's Defence Ministry has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for over 200 helicopters for the Navy.

The move by the Defence Ministry comes amid an ongoing and escalating military standoff between India and China in the Doklam region. Both the countries have been involved in the regional conflict for over two months now.

The Indian Navy on Tuesday also inducted a landing craft utility ship which will be deployed for many activities like transporting battle tanks and other heavy weapons systems, according to reports.

The Defence Ministry's move also shows its desperate need to equip soldiers with more weapons and advanced facilities in response to threats from China led by the military standoff.

The RFI was reportedly issued for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters and 123 Naval Multi-role Helicopters with anti-submarine warfare capabilities and both will be global tenders for Original Equipment Manufacturers. The last date to respond to the RFI is October 6.

Reports state that the projects, worth over $5 billion together, will be executed under the new "strategic partnership" (SP) policy under the "Make in India" framework.

Indian Navy is still facing a shortage of helicopters and if there is a war on the other side, they will require the Multi-Role Helicopters to fight the battle.

Indian army soldiers are seen after a snowfall at the India-China trade route at Nathu-La, 55 km (34 miles) north of Gangtok, capital of Indian state of Sikkim, January 17, 2009
Indian army soldiers are seen after a snowfall at the India-China trade route at Nathu-La, 55 km (34 miles) north of Gangtok, capital of India's northeastern state of Sikkim.REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

The strategic partnership policy, initiated by the ministry, also shows the established relations with the Indian industry majors which generally ties up with global original equipment providers to seek technology transfer and learn the manufacturing basics to set up manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.

Last year, then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had released the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP-2016) which focuses on Made in India products and fast-track the acquisition process for firms. Four sectors such as fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armoured fighting vehicles and battle tanks are finalised for the strategic partnership model.

Beijing and New Delhi are involved in a standoff in a region which China claims as its own. Amid the escalating situation, a report by India's national auditor has reportedly spurred the Defence Ministry to make a push to increase and modernise its artillery. The national auditor's report had stated that the Indian armed forces do not have enough ammunition to last a war of even 10 days. 

The Indian Army, earlier this month, made a deal to get Apache attack helicopters from US-based manufacturer Boeing, in a move that will greatly modernise and enhance its offensive capabilities.

The deal is believed to be for 6 Apache choppers — the likes of which are often used in combat by the US armed forces themselves — and will set India back by around Rs 4,168 crore, now that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has given its approval to the deal.

Reports state that the MoD has also asked the Central government for Rs 20,000 crore to ensure that the Indian armed forces are ready for battle whenever such situation arises.