At a time when the mantra is self-reliance, the Indian Navy’s acquisition of 111 helicopters under the strategic partnership model aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing in collaboration with foreign firms is facing hurdles.
This is due to a lack of consensus in the Ministry of Defence whether the Indian partner should be a private or a state owned company.
While the Navy had earlier shortlisted three foreign and four private Indian companies, a recent deliberation that the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) should be the strategic partner has delayed matters, sources said.
There is a view that a Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) be given the nod.
“Despite Navy’s recommendations and a decision taken as per the strategic partnership model to go with private Indian company without participation of a DPSU, there is back and forth on the participation of HAL, delaying the critical acquisition of NUH,” said a defence source.
An official said a decision to go with a private Indian industry was taken in August 2018.
The Rs 21,000-crore project to include helicopters is critical for enhancing the Navy’s operational capabilities.