Out of the 111 helicopters 95 will be manufactured in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner

The Narendra Modi government's first defence procurement under the strategic partnership model for 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) will enter the final stage of selecting the manufacturers soon.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Sigh is likely to give a final clearance next week for the Request of Proposal (RFP) after having identified the Indian firms and foreign manufacturers who will get together for the production of the helicopters, according to sources.

"It's likely to be cleared in the next DAC meeting and RFP will be issued for the naval utility helicopter project," an Indian Navy source said.

The foreign equipment manufacturers will play a key role in transfer technology and be a strategic partner for the Rs 21,000 crore deal.

These helicopters will replace the ageing Chetak helicopters and will be used for search and rescue operations, casualty evacuation, low intensity marine operations and torpedo drops.

The strategic partnership model aims at a collaboration between Indian manufacturers and foreign firms who are willing to share technology and then set up Indian production lines.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had issued Expression of Interest for short listing of potential Indian Strategic Partners and foreign OEMs for the procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters for the Indian Navy on February 12, 2019.

Out of the 111 helicopters 95 will be manufactured in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner.

The foreign firms, which will be strategic partners, will have to set up dedicated manufacturing line, including design, integration and manufacturing processes for the helicopters in India and make Indian manufacturing line as a global exclusive facility for the NUH platform being offered.

In July last year the MoD approved guidelines for the strategic partnership model aimed at giving a push to indigenous defence manufacturing, more than a year after the policy was unveiled in May 2017.

"This will give a major fillip towards encouraging self-reliance and aligning the defence sector with the Make in India initiative of the government," a defence ministry statement said.

Through the strategic partnership model the government aims at reducing defence imports that currently account for 60 per cent of military acquisitions.

A parliamentary report, tabled last year in the Parliament, highlighted the slow progress of the strategic partnership model and observed that dependence on foreign suppliers particularly for military hardware not only resulted in huge expenditure on import of defence equipment but made the security of the country vulnerable as during emergency situations the supplier may not provide the required weapons or spare parts.