India has rejected the US Navy proposal to supply 16 MH-60 Romeo multirole helicopters (MRH) through the foreign military sales (FMS) route for its navy.

The Indian Defence Ministry has decided to go for an open competitive bidding for the multibillion dollar deal to replace its aging Sea King fleet.

The tender was issued in September 2008 and now only two contenders, the US S-70 Bravo and the European NH-90, remain in contention.

The field evaluation trials are expected to start after March, and the winning contender will supply the first MRH within 46 months in three phases and reinvest 30% of the contract amount back into the Indian defence industry.

As per the request for proposal (RFP), if the contract is completed, the navy will have the option of placing orders for another 44 helicopters, according to Press Trust of India.

The MRHs are primarily used for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, cargo carrying and casualty evacuation missions.