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India to build 440 light utility choppers for armed forces

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Indian armed forces have projected a combined requirement of 440 light utility helicopters which will now be manufactured indigenously involving the state-owned HAL and private sector firms in partnership with foreign players.

The IAF, Army and Navy require 440 choppers and these would be now manufactured within India including in the HAL, private sector firms and foreign players, Defence Ministry officials said.

The armed forces had projected their requirements to the Defence Ministry before the Government scrapped a Rs 6,000-crore tender to procure 197 such helicopters for the Army and the Air Force, they said.

The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has already started a project in Tumkur, Karnataka for building light helicopters, which will have capability to lift 2.5 tonnes payload.

Last Friday, the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had scrapped the scam-tainted tender for procuring the choppers to replace the vintage fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters used to move troops and equipment in high-altitude locations like Siachen.

The DAC decided to retract from the tender for procuring these choppers and the Indian industry would be given the opportunity to produce around 400 such choppers for the requirements of the armed forces.

In line with NDA government's plan to develop the indigenous industry, the government decision is expected to generate business worth over Rs 40,0000 crore for the local industry in the defence sector, they said.

This is the second time in seven years that the tender has been scrapped in which European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov were competing and it had been on hold for the past over two years due to an ongoing CBI probe and other allegations of wrongdoings in the trial process.


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