Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) is tying up with Bell helicopters competing against Mahindra-Airbus combine for the Indian Navy’s $2 billion contract for 100 utility helicopters to be operated from warships.
Tata will form a joint venture with Bell to bid for the contract under existing foreign direct investment norms, ET reported Tuesday citing unnamed sources from TASL.
"The TASL tie-up with Bell Helicopter is likely to be announced formally soon. It will make the competition more or less a direct fight between Mahindra and Tata," people involved in the developments told ET. The Indian Navy is looking for a modern chopper to replace its ageing Chetak helicopters.
While the initial requirement is for 100 helicopters, the number may go up as the navy inducts newer platforms and increases the size of its fleet.
Under the route being followed to get the choppers, Indian companies will lead the procurement bids with a foreign company as a technology partner. TASL will be the lead company in partnership with Bell Helicopter, based in Fort Worth, Texas.
Competition for the new choppers is expected to play out between the Bell 429 and the Airbus AS565, one of which will be selected on technical and commercial grounds.