The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a request for information (RFI) to local defence companies for participation in the $1.7bn tender to replace the army's ageing Bofors 40mm L/70 air-defence guns.
The RFI, which was sent to Tata Power SED, Larsen & Toubro, Punj Lloyd, Bharat Forge and the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Bharat Earth Movers, follows a failure to attract global tenders for the guns, Defense News reported.
According to RFI terms, the guns will be acquired in the buy and make (Indian) category, which allows only local companies or their joint venture with foreign companies to compete, if 50% of the system's components are domestically manufactured.
An unnamed MoD official was quoted by the news agency as saying that the domestic companies would be required to join forces with overseas defence firms to manufacture the guns, as they lack experience in selling the weapons.
However, an Indian Army official expressed uncertainty on whether local companies would be able to forge an alliance with overseas firms.
"We are already behind schedule in buying several priority purchase[s] for the defence forces, and we need to buy from the overseas market immediately and later rely on the domestic sector," the official said.
The two global tenders launched in 2007 and 2009, which covered the delivery of 428 air-defence guns, were cancelled due to single-vendor situations.
In addition, the 2013 tender, submitted to Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Thales, Bumar, Rosoboronexport and BAE Systems, failed to generate any response, according to Defense News.
The army is seeking guns of a calibre greater than 30mm that can fire 1000 rounds per minute, with the ability to engage air targets day and night using fire-control radars and electro-optical fire-control systems.
Purchased along with ammunition, the new guns are expected to safeguard areas of tactical importance in the mountains, plains, desert and semi-desert terrain.
Image: A Bofors 40mm L/70 anti-aircraft gun at Muzeyon Heyl ha-Avir, Hatzerim airbase, Israel. Photo: courtesy of Bukvoed.