New Delhi, Aug 10 (IANS) Looking to replace its navy's ageing Chetak helicopter fleet, India has floated a $900-million global tender, after a five-year delay, to procure around 60 utility choppers.
Indian Navy sources said here that the tender, called Request for Proposals in defence parlance, was issued Tuesday when the outgoing chief Admiral Nirmal Verma was addressing his farewell press conference and disclosed that the RFP "should get issued any time now."
The utility choppers will replace the 60-odd Chetaks that the navy has in service and are operated both from shore and from on board its warships' flight deck.
This naval tender comes four years after India issued a global tender for 197 utility helicopters - of which 133 are for the army and 64 for the air force - also to replace the two forces' ageing Chetak and Cheetah helicopter fleet.
This army and air force joint tender was reissued in 2008 after the initial tender issued two years earlier was cancelled over procedural lapses.
But the winner of the army and air force tender, for which Eurocopter's AS550-C3 Fennec and Russian manufacturer Kamov's Ka-226 are in the race, is still to be out and the decision-making is in its final stages.
The navy could not participate in that tender due to delays in finalising technical requirements for the chopper it wanted in service.
Under the present tender issued to global manufacturers, the navy is looking to procure twin-engine helicopters, sources said.
Among the firms likely to respond to the tender notice are US manufacturer Sikorsky, European Eurocopter, Russian Kamov and Italian AgustaWestland.
The Indian Navy at present uses indigenous Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, Westland SeaKing, Sikorsky SeaKing, Chetaks, and Kamov's Ka-25, Ka-28 and Ka-31 helicopters, making it a over 100-chopper-strong fleet.