(dpa) - India's Defence Ministry will soon invite bids for the country's biggest-ever helicopter deal estimated to be worth nearly 2 billion dollars, defence officials said Friday.
"The Defence Acquisitions Council chaired by Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday night gave its nod to the government for inviting the request for proposals for 384 helicopters for the joint Army - Indian Air Force helicopter project," a defence ministry official said, requesting anonymity.
The Indian military is in the process of ramping up its air-power to match the aviation build-up by neighbouring Pakistan and China. With the deal, the Indian military hopes to replace its ageing fleet of helicopters acquired from France decades ago.
In December last year, India scrapped a 600-million-dollar deal for the supply of 197 helicopters from aerospace consortium European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) due to a "deviation" from approved parameters.
Subsequently, the IAF said it needed 115 helicopters in addition to the 197 choppers required by the army, following which the Indian military decided that the final tenders would be for 384 units.
Of the new helicopters, 197 are sought to be bought off the shelf while the remaining ones would be assembled in India, by the state-run Hindustan Aerospace Limited under technology transfer.
The Indian government is also considering a proposal to buy 100 more helicopters, including heavy-lift helicopters, armed gunships, rotor-based UAVs, as well as anti-submarine and air early warning helicopters for the navy, local media reported.