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India to buy 38 more Pilatus trainer jets from Switzerland

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The Pilatus jet trainer.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Government has cleared the purchase of 38 additional Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF from Switzerland and nominated state-run Goa Shipyard to manufacture 12 mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) for Rs 32,000 crore.

It also decided that future requirements of the trainer aircraft would be met by state-run HAL which would be given adequate orders for its HTT-40 plane to be commercially viable.

The Defence Acquisition Council, which met on Feb 28, also okayed the purchase of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Indian Air Force to replace the one which had crashed in March last year killing five service personnel, including four officers, near Gwalior.

Chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, DAC decided to seek more information on the proposal to purchase at least 15 US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japan.

No decision was taken on the bid by Airbus-TATA consortium to replace the ageing Avro transport aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force.

The major decision taken at the meeting was regarding the Pilatus aircraft. The Council decided to go in for the option clause in the deal that was originally signed in 2012.

The original contract for 75 aircraft had the option clause of buying 50 per cent under same terms and conditions for three years. This option clause runs out in May and hence the Council decided to go in for that.

The force has so far inducted 59 PC-7 aircraft. IAF had calculated a requirement of 181 basic trainer aircraft (BTA) out of which 90 were supposed to be bought off the shelf and 91 made in India.

However, the UPA government decided to go for a 75 aircraft contract with a 50 per cent follow-on clause.

"The remaining requirement will be met by the HAL which will supply its indigenously developed HTT-40. Adequate orders will be given to the HAL to make the development commercially viable," Defence sources said.

They said that the progress of this project will be monitored by a committee and it will periodically submit its report to the DAC.

Another big project was the MCMV one. The Defence Ministry had in November last year scrapped the Rs 2,700-crore deal for acquiring two minesweeper vehicles from a South Korean firm after it was found that there were violations of tender conditions as agents were in the play.

As per the deal, the South Korean firm was to build two ships while the remaining six were to be manufactured by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) under the transfer of technology pact.

The DAC has now nominated GSL to build 12 MCMVs under a project that will cost Rs 32,000 crore, defence sources said.

They underlined that GSL, which has already invested about Rs 500 crore in setting up infrastructure for this order, will lead the path and tie-up with a foreign firm if needed.

The DAC also decided to purchase a special operation capable aircraft C130-J from the US for Rs 533 crore.

It will replace the one which had crashed while practicing a tactical operation along with another C-130J Super Hercules aircraft after taking off from Agra on March 28 last year.

All the crew on board - four officers and one Warrant Officer - lost their lives in the mishap.

The Council also approved the purchase of 21 Low Level Light Weight Radars (LLLWR) for the IAF besides sanctioning additional multi-barrel Russian Grad rockets for the Army.

It also approved setting up of armament repair facilities for the Indian Navy. These will be set up in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam at a cost of about Rs 450 crore each, sources said.

The DAC did not take a decision on the Airbus-Tata consortium's bid to replace IAF's ageing fleet of 56 Avro aircraft with C-295 transport carriers.

The government has set up an independent committee to look into the various issues vis-a-vis a single-vendor scenario.

The European aviation major had last week said it would be a "shame" if the project is delayed further.

In May 2013, the ministry had issued a global tender -- called a Request For Proposals -- to original equipment manufacturers including US firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, European multinational Airbus Defence and Space, and Antonov of Ukraine among others.

They were required to tie-up with an Indian private company under which 40 aircraft will be produced here while 16 will be bought off-the-shelf.

However, only Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd consortium had bid for the proposal in October last year.

Under the current defence procurement policy, single- vendor situation is not entertained unless cleared by DAC.

Tags:

IAF  Pilatus  Defence  HAL  Super Hercules  Avro  
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