India's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved a plan to obtain 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH).

The DAC is led by India’s defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and the NUH deal's "Acceptance of Necessity" is the first case to be cleared by the government under the strategic partnership (SP) model announced in May.

The cost of the acquisition is pegged at $3.3 billion, and a request for proposals (RFP) is expected in the second quarter of 2018.

The defence ministry issued a request for information in August for 111 naval utility helicopters and 123 naval multi-role helicopters (NMRH).

Potential bidders for the NUH requirement are Airbus Helicopters, Sikorsky, and Leonardo.

Under the SP model, the original equipment manufacturer must select an Indian partner who will assemble the helicopters in India.

As per the RFI, the first 15 helicopters are to be delivered by the manufacturer in fly Away condition to meet an immediate training and search and rescue (SAR) rotorcraft requirement.

The first 15 helicopters will be in basic configuration with the ability to undertake SAR, casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), anti-piracy and anti-terrorism missions in addition to passenger and cargo transport.

The remaining 96 helicopters will be delivered "fully Configured", and capable of performing the anti-submarine warfare mission. They also need a radar warning receiver (RWR), missile approach warning system (MAWS) and countermeasure dispensing system (CMDS).

The twin-engine utility helicopters are expected to be in the five-tonne weight category. The RFI also asks for the ability to integrate torpedoes, sensors and avionics of Indian, western, and Russian origin.