MoD clears plan to buy 111 helicopters for Indian Navy

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has approved the procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy under the strategic partnership model.

“About 16 will be taken in fly away condition and 95 will be done in later stage by the Indian manufacturer,” said a defence ministry official who did not wish to be named.

The choppers will be procured under the defence ministry’s new strategic partnership model that aims to localize manufacturing.

Under the strategic partnership model, the government will shortlist and then pick Indian companies to join forces with foreign firms to make fighter jets, helicopters, armoured vehicles and submarines. Indian firms Larsen and Toubro Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, Tata group and Adani group, among others are likely to benefit the most from this new policy.

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.

Jayant Patil, head of defence and whole time director of L&T, welcomed the decision.

“This clearance by DAC means this is a firm commitment and that it will be bought,” Patil said.

The next big orders in line are for single-engine fighter jets and more helicopters for the Indian Air Force.

Last week, Sitharaman told officials to address top military firms’ concerns over licensing and tax issues and reiterated the government’s commitment to facilitate private sector participation in defence manufacturing.

Sitharaman also told top executives of the private defence industry that the government was “fully committed” to removing all the stumbling blocks and facilitating private participation in defence manufacturing with the objective of bringing high value foreign investment into the sector, officials said.

She told them that the focus of the initiative is to ensure self-reliance in meeting the country’s defence needs and that the government will provide a level-playing field to the industry.

“The present government has taken a series of significant policy initiatives, including promulgation of DPP (defence procurement procedure) 2016 which gives highest priority to indigenous design and manufacture of defence equipment, introduction of strategic partnership model, liberalization of FDI (foreign direct investment) norms and providing a level-playing to private industry,” the defence minister had said.

By: Live Mint

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