The Indian Ministry of Defence has issued an expression of interest (EoI) for the procurement of 111 naval utility helicopters.

The Indian Navy did not give financial details of the deal, however, the acquisition is estimated to be Rs217bn ($3.06bn).

The proposed acquisition represents the first one to be executed under the new Strategic Partner (SP) procurement model under the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

The EoI was issued to shortlist potential Indian strategic partners and foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for the acquisition.

The naval utility helicopters will replace the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built Chetak helicopters.

Under the project, the selected Indian firm is required to manufacture 95 helicopters out of 111 in India.

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The Indian Navy will use the naval utility helicopters for search and rescue, casualty evacuation, LIMO, passenger roles and torpedo drops.

The project was approved in August last year by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman.

“The Indian Navy will use the naval utility helicopters for search and rescue, casualty evacuation, LIMO, passenger roles and torpedo drops.”

According to the ministry, the project will boost indigenous manufacturing capability for helicopters.

The OEMs are required to establish a dedicated manufacturing line, including design, integration and manufacturing processes to build the naval utility helicopters in India.

Through the contract, the ministry aims to make Indian manufacturing line as a global exclusive facility for the naval utility helicopter platform.

Indian firms likely to participate in the bidding include Tata Advanced Systems, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure, while the foreign list of participants is expected to comprise Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters and Bell Helicopters, according to media sources.

The project aims to indigenise around 60% of the helicopters.

The government has given two months’ time to domestic firms to respond to the EoI, while the corresponding timeline for the foreign companies is three months.

The defence ministry expects to issue the request for proposal towards the end of the third quarter of this year.