In a major move, the defence ministry on Tuesday approved procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 21,738 crore, in the first acquisition to be cleared under the strategic partnership model.
The defence ministry also approved a Rs 450-crore proposal to procure nine active towed array sonar systems for frontline warships of the Navy, official sources said.
The two long-pending proposals were accorded 'Acceptance of Necessity (AoN)' at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the sources said.
On helicopters, they said 16 of them will be procured at a fly away condition while 95 will be manufactured in India.
It is the first case of procurement to be cleared under the strategic partnership model which was unveiled in May as part of an ambitious policy initiative to promote domestic defence industry in tune with the government's 'Make in India' programme.
The cost of the helicopter project will be Rs 21,738 crore, the sources said.
The government will now start the process to identify a foreign helicopter maker and an Indian defence firm for a joint venture for the project.
The sources said the the Navy will soon issue RFP (request for proposal) to leading manufacturers of military helicopters.
In May, the government had unveiled the strategic partnership model under which select private firms will be roped in to build military platforms such as submarines and fighter jets in India in partnership with foreign entities.
The defence ministry had that month finalised the SP model under which select private firms will be roped in to build military platforms like submarines, fighter jets and choppers in India in partnership with foreign entities.
The policy envisages establishment of long-term strategic partnerships between Indian defence majors and global defence firms to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.
Initially, the strategic partners was to be selected in four segments - fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armoured fighting vehicles/main battle tanks. It is expected to be expanded to other segments at a later stage.
The Navy has been pressing the government to procure new utility and multi-role helicopters to add teeth to its existing capability and replace its ageing fleet of choppers but the procurement process has seen years of delays.