European defence and aerospace manufacturer Airbus Group and India's Mahindra Group have struck a deal to jointly build military helicopters that would cater to the needs of the country's armed forces.
Airbus Helicopters will set up a joint venture with Mahindra Group subsidiary, Mahindra Defence, to locally produce helicopters that would meet the country's military requirements, the companies said in a joint statement today.
''The strengths of both the companies will ensure a strong partnership to present the best rotorcraft solutions for India's needs and strengthen indigenous industrial capabilities, in line with the government's `Make in India' initiative,'' the two stated in the release.
India is in the midst of a huge upgrade of its armed forces, which would require $250 billion in defence spending over the next decade and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to encourage more indigenous manufacturing to end India's position as the world's largest arms importer.
Airbus Helicopters is joining forces with Mahindra after talks with several Indian companies that are planning huge investments in defence production in tune with the government's push to build arms at home.
Other companies in the running for the joint venture included Reliance Industries and Tata Group, reports earlier quoted Airbus Helicopters sources as saying.
''We have an unparalleled track-record of successful industrial collaborations with local partners across the world. We are convinced that with Mahindra we will not only have a mutually rewarding association but one which will offer immense benefits to India,'' said Guillaume Faury, Airbus Helicopters president & CEO.
''The tie-up is in line with our intent to develop an indigenous industrial ecosystem dedicated to helicopters. The joint venture will be dedicated to supplying the Indian armed forces with Made-in-India, state-of-the-art helicopters of high reliability, quality and safety standard based on combat-proven platforms.''
Both companies will now get into discussions to finalise the formation of the joint venture, which will act as the prime contractor for India's military helicopter tenders, including reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter, naval utility helicopter and naval multirole helicopter procurement programmes.
''This arrangement between two established and trusted industrial players will create a formidable partnership,'' said S P Shukla, group president, Aerospace and Defence Sector and chairman, Mahindra Defence Systems Limited.''
We have extensive expertise in engineering, automotive and fixed-wing sectors and have made substantial investments in aero components manufacturing, while Airbus Helicopters offers best-in-class rotorcraft platforms. Together, we will produce India's next-generation helicopters that will not only answer our country's defence needs but will also have the potential for exports in the future.''
The joint venture aims to become the first private Indian helicopter manufacturer under the 'Make in India' initiative. This will create hundreds of high-tech jobs locally and lead to a flow of cutting edge technologies to India should it be selected in the governmental helicopter tenders, according to Mahindra Group.
Mahindra Aerospace has led the Mahindra Group's foray into utility aircraft and aerostructure manufacturing since 2008. Its utility aircraft business, based in Australia, currently produces the Airvan 8, a rugged and versatile utility aircraft. Certified in 38 countries, over 200 are in service.
Mahindra Aerospace is also developing a 10-seat turboprop, the Airvan 10, which is scheduled for certification in 2015.
Mahindra Defence has companies engaged in catering to needs of all three wings of defence forces - Army, Air Force and Navy.
Besides, the group produces a range of equipment, including armoured vehicles, underwater warfare equipment, radars and surveillance equipment's etc.
Airbus Helicopters is a division of Airbus Group engaged in the manufacture of civil and military helicopters. The company's in-service fleet includes some 12,000 helicopters operated by more than 3,000 customers in 152 countries. Airbus Helicopters employs more than 23,000 people worldwide and in 2014 generated revenues of 6.5 billion Euros.