New Delhi, June 6 : Ostensibly to boost the indigenous industries, the government of India has decided to bring down the global tender for the purchase of helicopters from 384 to 197.
The Defence Acquisition Council has overruled the objections from the Army and Air Force, and decided that the remaining 187 copters will be indigenously developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
The Government's major indigenisation of the military aviation sector will be worth Rs. 22,000 crore and the bulk of the amount will be spent on design and development of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, highly placed sources have said.
The sources said that design and development would be the thrust area, and added that licensed production leads to a maximum value addition of 45 per cent, this route will increase the percentage to 80.
Similarly, the Sukhoi fighters would be made from the raw material stage, ending the problem of domestically assembled fighters being costlier than the imported ones.
The decision will provide an opportunity to HAL to manufacture helicopters indigenously. The step would be in line with the recent remarks of Defence Minister A K Antony that India will strengthen its own research and development organizations.
Antony had also told a parliamentary panel a few days ago that the defence technologies being "offered to India were mostly previous generation tactical systems and that too on unacceptable terms and conditions."
The government's earlier decision to float a global tender for 384 helicopters, 197 for the Army and 115 for the Air Force, was estimated to be worth more than two billion dollars.
The deal, from the very beginning, has been jinxed as a previous attempt to float a tender for 197 helicopters was cancelled in December last year following allegations of irregularities.
Besides the light helicopters, the defence ministry proposes to acquire medium -lift choppers and heavy-lift helicopters.
The navy also plans to purchase six medium-range multi-role reconnaissance aircraft to boost its surveillance along the vulnerable coastline. The defence ministry is believed to have cleared the Request for Proposals (RFPs) for initiating the tender process for the acquisition of the reconnaissance aircraft.