New Delhi: Indian Armed Forces are set to float two big global tenders in the new financial year for the procurement of eight advanced mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) and 317 helicopters, at a total cost of over Rs10,000 crore.
The need for a modern fleet of MCMV's for the Indian Navy has arisen with increased threat from state as well as non-state actors who are capable of choking sea lanes by using underwater mines. The navy is currently operating an ageing Soviet-era fleet of 10 minesweepers, which have the difficult task of protecting Indian harbours and off-shore installations.
According to reports, a contract of around $50 million has already been signed with French armaments major Thales which will upgrade four minesweepers into mine-hunters through new sonar suites and combat systems.
This apart, the defence ministry is likely to issue a global RFP (request for proposal) for eight advanced MCMVs, which will combine the role of minesweepers and mine-hunters, in a project worth around Rs6,000 crore.
According to reports, an Italian (Intermarine) and a Korean (Kangnam) shipyard are among the contenders for the contract. While a couple of the MCMVs will be built at the foreign shipyard, the remaining will be constructed at Goa Shipyard under a transfer of technology agreement, officials have been quoted as saying.
The Navy hopes to induct the first of the glass-reinforced fibre hulled MCMVs by 2011-2012.
The Navy's 10-year ship-building plan envisages construction of 75 ships and submarines in Indian shipyards. The Navy currently sails 131 warships, which includes 49 'major combatants' and 16 submarines.
According to published reports, the Indian Navy already has 33 warships and six Scorpene submarines on order in Indian yards, apart from the three Talwar-class follow-on frigates and Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier in Russia. It is also likely to order a new fleet tanker from Italy, sources said.
The RFP for 317 'light' helicopters for the Indian Army and the Air Force will be issued once again after the government scrapped an earlier, near-finalised $1 billion deal to procure 197 of them for the Army in December.
So far, only the Army's requirement for 197 helicopters has been cleared by the Defence Acquisitions Council, though defence minister AK Antony had declared earlier that the IAF's similar requirement for 120 helicopters would also be clubbed along with the Army order.