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Def Min file related to aircraft acquisition goes missing

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NEW DELHI (PTI): A file relating to procurement of Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) aircraft, a deal said to be worth around Rs 2,000 crore, has gone missing from the Defence Ministry resulting in delays in the acquisition of the aircraft.

Dealing with the procurement of around 20 Hawk AJTs for equipping the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT), the file has gone missing recently and the process has now to be restarted with the issue of Request for Information (RFI) in the near future, sources told PTI.

It has disappeared at a time when the acquisition process was at an advanced stage with the tender already issued. Now there could be a delay of at least around one year, they said.

The Defence Ministry has taken a serious view of the lapses on part of the officials handling the file and an inquiry has been ordered, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Ministry said it will order disciplinary proceedings against officials who are found responsible for the lapses, they said.

India has, so far, placed orders for 123 Hawks with the British BAE Systems in two phases. The first order for 66 aircraft was placed by India in 2004, of which more than 40 have already arrived. The second order for 57 aircraft was placed in July 2010.

The third order was being placed for the SKAT which was formed in 1996 with the HJT-16 Kiran trainer planes which have been grounded for the last two-three years as the team's aircraft. They are now being used for training of pilots.

The Hawk AJTs have been inducted into the IAF to provide intermediate training to young pilots for graduating from the subsonic HJT-16 aircraft to the supersonic MiG-21s.

The Hawks are manufactured in India by the state-owned HAL with the help of kits and equipment supplied by the British firm BAE.

Acquisitions in the Defence Ministry are looked after by the Directorate General of Acquisitions which is headed by an Additional Secretary-rank officer.

This is not the first time that a file related to key defence procurements has gone missing. Three years ago, an important file related to the multi-billion dollar procurement of 126 multi-role combat aircraft had also gone missing from the Defence Ministry.

It was found later by a passerby from a locality in New Delhi under mysterious circumstances and handed over to the Air Force by a civilian.

Tags:

Defence  IAF  AJT  Hawk  Aircraft  
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