The long-pending proposal was cleared at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, official sources said. PTI Photo
New Delhi, October 31 (IANS) The Defence Acquisition Council on Tuesday approved the first project under the new Strategic Partnership model to induct 111 helicopters in the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 21,738 crore, informed sources said.
The DAC, chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also cleared acquisition of nine active towed array sonar systems for the Indian naval ships and submarines at a cost of Rs 450 crore. The radars will be made in India.
An Acceptance of Necessity (AON) for the helicopters was cleared by the DAC, the highest decision-making body for defence procurement in the Ministry. An AON is a government approval for a purchase proposal.
Under the project, 16 helicopters will be in flyaway condition while 95 will be made by an Indian manufacturer. A Request For Information for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUHs) was issued by the Defence Ministry in August.
The government will now start the procedure to identify a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer and an Indian partner for the project.
The Navy needs the NUHs for replacing its aging fleet of Chetak choppers.
The Navy has been facing shortage of helicopters and requires multi-role choppers for deployment on warships.
Sitharaman, soon after taking charge as the Defence Minister, started holding DAC meetings fortnightly.
According to the sources, the Minister has been reviewing ongoing and pending projects and held discussions over delays in specific defence acquisition projects.