The cash-scarce Defence Ministry is in talks with the government to buy up to 40,000 helicopters, the first such purchase of the countrys helicopter fleet since India started deploying them.

Sources told The Times that the sale is being discussed with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is also the chairman of the defence committee.

The choppers are expected to be procured by 2019.

The sale of the helicopters comes after a massive surge in demand in the Indian defence market in recent years.

In 2014, the government sold 22,000 such helicopters, making the country the third-largest importer of the US-made F-16 fighter jets.

But with the Indian economy slowing down and a massive shortage of funds, the price of the jets has risen to record highs.

The government is also keen to purchase another 10,000 helicopter-makers, and hopes to acquire them all in the coming months, sources said.

A deal for the additional 10,100 choppers is still on hold.

The Ministry of Defence has also been discussing a plan to procure more aircraft, but sources said the government is yet to finalise a deal.