The Indian Navy is moving a proposal to buy 24 multi-role helicopters for an approximate $1.8 billion (INR 12,000 Crore) to be deployed for anti-submarine warfare as well as operations by its Marine Commando (MARCOS) special forces.
"We have moved a proposal worth `12,000 crore to buy 24 multi-role helicopters through a tender under the buy global category of the defence procurement procedure for our warships and sea-based operations," MAIL TODAY reported quoting an unnamed source in the Navy as saying Sunday.
The proposal is expected to come up for discussion during an important meeting of the defence ministry scheduled to be held next week under defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the source said.
The navy also has plans of issuing an international tender for purchasing 123 Naval Multirole Helicopters (NMRH).
The defence ministry has already given a go-ahead to the maritime force to purchase 111 naval utility helicopters for its requirement to replace its vintage Cheetah/Chetak choppers.
The move has come at a time when the defence ministry was forced to retract a more than nine-year tender to purchase choppers from American firm Sikorsky Corporation due to very high price and the refusal of the firm to extend its contractual validity in view of the long acquisition process.
After the contract was scrapped, the navy was trying to procure the choppers from American firm under the Foreign Military Sales programme, but it is learnt that the defence ministry put its foot down as it wants a multi-vendor competition in all defence deals to avoid monopolistic situations.
In almost all the single-vendor cases, the vendors increase the price of their products manifold while trying to bypass the procedures given under the defence procurement rules. Once the proposal is cleared, the navy will issue a global request for proposal in which the American firm Sikorsky and European firm Airbus Helicopters are expected to participate.
In the previous tender, the navy had wanted to buy 16 choppers but now it wants to go for 24 choppers in view of the increased responsibilities in its area of operations. Some navy officers claimed that the force was in a bad condition as its old Seaking multi-role choppers were getting older and its warships were operating without multirole choppers.