India shortlists naval helicopter producers

According to a report by Reuters, India on Tuesday invited expressions of interest for 111 helicopters to be made in the country in collaboration with foreign partners, the Indian defence ministry said, in a deal estimated at nearly $3 billion.

Among those expected to participate in the bidding are Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters, and Bell Helicopters, according to a ministry statement.

The bid is in order to replace the navy’s vintage Soviet-era helicopters, in order to narrow the gap with China but defence expenditure has been largely stagnant, making for slow procurement.

Under the byzantine rules of defence purchases, once manufacturers have submitted expressions of interest, the defence ministry will issue requests for proposals likely to be in the third quarter of 2019.

That will be followed by a tender inviting final bids from the manufacturers in a process that is expected to take years.

The Indian companies, according to Reuters, quoting the Indian defence ministry, likely to participate in the bidding, are Tata Advanced Systems, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and , the defence ministry said.

These firms will constitute joint ventures with the foreign companies to make the helicopters in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India programme designed to build a domestic military industrial complex and reduce imports.

The helicopters are meant for SAR operations, casualty evacuation, and light transport.