India has invited expressions of interest for 111 helicopters to be made in the country in collaboration with foreign partners, the defence ministry said, in a deal estimated at nearly Rs 21,738 crore ($3 billion).
Lockheed Martin, Airbus Helicopters and Bell Helicopters are among those expected to participate in the bidding, the ministry statement said.
Under the 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.
Companies likely to participate in the bidding are Tata Advanced Systems, Mahindra Defence, Adani Defence, L&T, Bharat Forge and Reliance Infrastructure, the defence ministry said.
Indian companies have been given two months to respond to the EoI, while the foreign OEMs have been given three months.
These firms will collaborate with the foreign companies to make the helicopters in the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make-in-India programme designed to build a domestic military industrial complex and reduce imports.
The new choppers will replace Chetak helicopters and will be utilised for search and rescue, casualty evacuation, light maritime operations, passenger roles and also dropping torpedo.
At present, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the only company producing choppers in India.
The request for EoI from Indian private companies for participating in the project has been hosted on the MoD website. The foreign manufacturers have been mandated to set up dedicated manufacturing line, including design, integration and manufacturing processes, for NUH in India.