The top institute for procurement by the Ministry of Defense, the Acquisition Council (DAC), approved approval on Saturday for acquisitions worth Rs 460 billion. This includes missiles and two types of helicopters for the naval and artillery guns for the military.
The biggest purchase that has received the green light today is the Rs purchase of 217.38 billion of 111 naval helicopters (NUH), which will be built by a competitively-chosen Indian private sector.
"This is the first project under the prestigious Strategic Partnership (SP) model of the Ministry of Defense, which aims to give the Make-in program of the government a major boost." SP-model provides for the indigenous production of large defense platforms by an Indian SP, which will cooperate with foreign OEM (original equipment manufacturer), acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the country, "said the Ministry of Defense on Saturday.
READ ALSO: Anti-runway and anti-tank missiles successfully tested: Ministry of Defense
The search for a suitable foreign OEM began more than a year ago. On December 1, the naval chief, Admiral Sunil Lanba, said: "We have submitted an RFI (request for information) and we have received answers from five OEMs.
On 30 July, the Ministry of Defense had the & # 39; implementation guidelines & # 39; Announced for choosing an SP in the helicopter category, leaving the way for this tender.
The basic SP policy framework is part of the Defense Procurement Procedure 2016 (DPP-2016). Equipment-specific selection criteria must, however, be drawn up separately for each of the four weapon categories covering the SP policy: fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines and armored vehicles. The guidelines for hunters, submarines and armored vehicle categories are still awaited.
In another tender that the naval chief had identified as "the main helicopter for us", the DAC cleared the purchase of 24 marine multi-role helicopters (NMRH) operating from the decks of capital warships, giving early warning and localize and destroy. enemy submarines.
The navy's NMRH fleet currently consists of fewer than a dozen vintage Seaking helicopters that are increasingly difficult to maintain. While the acquisition of replacement NMRH has dragged on for more than a decade, the helicopter pilots of the navy's front-line war ships have remained virtually empty.
"In order to increase the navy's assets at sea, approval has also been granted for the purchase of anti-submarine-capable, 24 multi-role helicopters, which are an integral part of the front-line warships such as the aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates. Corvettes and availability of MRH in the navy would close the existing capacity gap, "said the Ministry of Defense.
READ ALSO: Navy & # 39; s next-gen patrol vessels get govt kink; frigates, destroyers to follow
It is intriguing that the ministry has not announced in which category these helicopters are purchased. There are reports that the contract is awarded to the American space giant Lockheed Martin on the basis of one supplier. This is only a few days before the 2 + 2 VS-India meeting in Delhi on 6 September.
The mostly credible defense blog, Livefist, writes: "The Indian Defense Ministry today stated that the 24 Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky MH-60 Romeo Navy could contract maritime helicopters in a government-government agreement with the Pentagon for $ 1.8 billion. to be worth (Rs 12,500 crore). "
The MH-60 Romeo was built by Sikorsky, which Lockheed Martin – already the world's largest arms company – took over in November 2015.
The Ministry of Defense is also silent about whether the 24 NMRH is purchased in flight mode, such as the 36 Rafale fighters contracted in 2016, or whether a Make in India component is attached to the deal.
With the Navy's claim that NMRH is linked to 123 helicopters for the entire fleet, it is feasible to buy the first 24 in flying state, while the remaining 99 helicopters have been built in India. Contacted for clarification, the Ministry of Defense did not respond.
In a much needed filling of the firepower of the army, the DAC approved the production of 150 in-house designed and developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS) for an estimated cost of Rs 33.65 billion.
These guns, which the ministry calls "the mainstay of the artillery" in the near future, are obtained under the "Make – Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM)" category. The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has monitored their development and two private companies will build the pistols in parallel: the Kalyani group and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering division).
Also read: DPrP 2018: Production targets for weapons are & # 39; too ambitious & # 39 ;, says Ajay Kumar
The plan is to eventually enter about 1500 ATAGS. The current order is a preliminary batch that will be used to continue the development of weapons.
Finally, the DAC approved the purchase of 14 vertically-launched short-range missile systems that increase the ability of warships to shoot and destroy incoming anti-ship missiles.