New Delhi, July 23 : In a major drive to modernise the armed forces and expand its aviation wing, the Defence Ministry will issue a request for proposal (RFP) to procure 197 helicopters on Thursday.
The armed forces will modernise their helicopter fleet by 2010 by replacing the age-old Cheetah and Chetak, which have been in service for last 40 years.
The Defence Ministry will issue the RFP for procurement of 197 helicopters on Thursday and it is expected that the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will develop the remaining 115 helicopters. The proposed procurement is worth Rs.3000 crore.
HAL will undertake the maintenance of these helicopters on a transfer of technology (ToT) basis. It has assured that it will develop the same type of platforms in five to seven years and will fulfill the rest of the requirements.
The Army will get 133 light utility helicopters and the Air Force will get 64 of them.
A senior official in the Ministry said that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony has decided that a combined team of the Army and the Air Force will carry out the technical trials.
He further said that the trials will end by 2009 and the induction of 197 helicopters will take place by 2010.
Six foreign companies will bid for the helicopter deal. The companies are Bell (US), Eurocopter, Augusta Westland (Italy), Rosobornexport (Russia), MD Helicopters (US) and Sikorsky (US).
The source said that the defence procurement policy (DPP) 2006 would be applicable because the DPP 2008 has still not been announced. The offset would be 50 percent and the companies will be given three months time to respond.
Earlier, the Defence Ministry had scrapped the deal to purchase 197 helicopters from Eurocopter in December 2007 due to irregularities and a deviation in the contract.
The total number of helicopters may increase to 384 units from 312 due to a new requirement for a large number of heavy-lift helicopters. By Praful Kumar Singh