India set to purchase  111 naval utility helicopters

NEWDELHI: India set to purchase  111 naval utility helicopters (NUHs) on Tuesday, with the defence ministry approving a ₹21,738-crore project to replace the Navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak choppers.

The government’s defence acquisition council (DAC), headed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has taken this decision at a time when the Navy is struggling to bridge capability gaps and a majority of its 140 war suppliers ships are operating without utility helicopters.

With the DAC according its ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AoN), the government moves a step closer to releasing a global tender for the five-tonne class helicopters. US, European and Russian are expected to compete for the lucrative deal by stitching up alliances with Indian firms under the government’s ‘strategic partnership’ model.

A defence ministry source said 16 of the choppers will be bought in flyaway condition from a foreign military contractor, and the remaining 95 will be built in partnership with an Indian firm.

Under the Make in India plan, the country’s arms procurement rules allow the direct purchase of weapons and systems from a foreign vendor under the ‘strategic partnership’ policy.

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