July 15 Chethan Kumar, DECCAN HERALD
Bangalore - The Ministry of Defence (MoD), which had called for the request of proposal (RFP) for the Rs 1,00,000-crore futuristic infantry combat vehicle (FICV) project earlier this year, is likely to shortlist two of the contending firms by July-end.
About 10 private firms, including the Tata’s, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and the Mahindra & Mahindra-BAE Systems joint venture –– Defence Land Systems India (DLSI) –– are among the firms waiting to be shortlisted for a project that will see the Army procure at least 2,500 such vehicles.
The Centre, MoD sources said, is keen on firms with foreign collaborations/tie-ups and that they will have an edge over the others as the project will require high precision.
The MoD had completed the field and facility visits of companies it had shortlisted in February. Sources claimed it had asked for assurance of overseas transfer of technology (ToT).
Also, the Centre is particular that the execution of the project lie in the hands of a domestic firm, although the need for foreign collaboration is almost a ‘mandate’.
US defence major General Dynamics is also said to be in the fray looking for possible tie-ups with Indian firms to bag the deal. The US firms competing for the other major defence contracts in India – the $10 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force – lost to their European competition.
The project will set a new precedence in the Indian defence procurement system. It has not only encouraged pure private participation for what defence sources term a “sensitive” project but it will also do away with the system of granting the deal on the basis of the lowest bid, a strong feature in Indian projects.
While the Centre is evidently keen on private participation and execution of the project, it is also seeking participation from a foreign firm, or a technology transfer from them to assure high quality product.