NEW DELHI — For the first time India has broken the monopoly of state enterprise Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and will permit private defense companies to manufacture rockets for helicopters.

"Indian Air Force (IAF) wishes to buy 200,000 70mm rockets for its helicopters and the Ministry of Defense (MoD), under its new 'Make in India' policy, is now allowing private defense companies to meet the armament and weaponry requirements of the defense forces," said an MoD defense production official who requested anonymity.

"The rockets are proposed to be developed and manufactured by the Indian industry and the project would be based on proven or matured technologies where fundamental research is not required," he said.

Currently three Indian defense forces procure rockets from OFB and imports from overseas.

Last week, IAF floated a request for information (RFI) to private defense companies asking to submit their capabilities to manufacture 70mm rockets for all kinds of helicopters, said a senior IAF official in private.

"It is a priority program under the 'Make in India' policy and we want home-made 70mm rockets within the next three years," he said.

Several private defense companies — Bharat Forge, Punj Lloyd , Mahindra Defence System, Reliance Defence, Larsen & Toubro, and Tata Group — will participate in the program with overseas partnerships.

At present none of the private defense companies have the capability to build sophisticated rockets on their own and they will need to forge tie-up with overseas defense companies such as Raytheon of US, Rafael of Israel, BAE Systems of UK, Diehl Defense of Germany, Thales of France, Saab of Sweden and Rosobornexport of Russia, said a senior industry lobby executive who requested anonymity.

"IAF's RFI on 70mm rockets is misleading as it does not specify specific technical requirements," Bhim Singh, retired IAF wing commander said.

"We want modern rockets which are actually advanced precision kill weapon systems," he added.