The ministry of defence (MoD) will be seeking fresh commercial bids from Larsen &Turbo (L&T) and Reliance Defence and Engineering (RDEL) – formerly Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company – for the Rs 20,000-crore Landing Platform Docks (LPD) for the Indian Navy project.

On the basis of L1 (lowest bidder), decision will be taken on who will build the four LPDs – the biggest order to private sector in defence till date. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, New Delhi wants to build indigenously four such warships, which will be the biggest-ever made in the country other than the 40,000-tonne sea-borne aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

“The need for fresh commercial bids became necessary as the earlier RfP proposed that the LPDs will be divided between private shipyards selected through a competitive process and on nomination basis to Hindustan Shipyard (HSL),” sources told FE.

Due to several reasons including the current order book of HSL, the decision has been taken to give all four LPDs to the private sector shipyards. According to Vice Admiral DM Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, “If all goes well, a contract for procurement of Landing Platform Docks will be finalised by the end of this year.”

As reported by FE in 2016, private firm ABG Shipyard (ABGSL) was out of the race as the company failed the Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) carried out by ICICI. The yard, which had been shortlisted by the Indian Navy along with L&T, did not get approval from the Controller of Warship, Production & Acquisition at MoD.

If selected, RDEL will be working with DCNS of France and Spanish company Navantia, which designed the 13,000-tonne “Galicia” class LPD in the 1990s. More recently, the 27,000-tonne Juan Carlos I Amphibious Assault Ship for Spain has tied up with L&T to work jointly on building LPDs. The vessel must be able to house combat vehicles (including main battle tanks, infantry combat vehicles and heavy trucks) and be able to undertake all-weather operations involving heavy lift helicopters of up to 35 tonne.

In December 2013, the Indian Navy floated a Rs 20,000-crore domestic tender for construction of four LPDs and bids were sent to domestic shipyards L&T, Pipavav Defence, and ABG Shipyard.

At the time, L&T had already cleared the financial and technical capacity assessment report, and last year the Defence Acquisition Council had cleared the capacity assessment of RDEL, which is now eligible for all defence projects. Each LPD will approximately cost Rs 6,000 crore and they are expected to be delivered over the next 10 years.

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