Defence Ministry defers decision on 4 major purchases

Defence Ministry deferred decisions on 4 deals worth Rs 40,000 crore even as it approved another set of proposals worth over Rs 13,000 crore for procuring weapon systems for the armed forces.

New Delhi: Defence Ministry on Monday deferred decisions on four major deals expected to be worth over Rs 40,000 crore even as it approved another set of proposals worth over Rs 13,000 crore for procuring weapon systems for the armed forces.
At the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister AK Antony, the Ministry deferred decisions on projects including procurement of 145 Ultra Light Howitzers for the Army, amphibious warship vessels worth over Rs 20,000 crore and multi-role helicopters worth over Rs 6,000 crore for the Navy, Defence Ministry officials said here.

The decision on a deal to procure 56 transport aircraft for the IAF has also been deferred as the Ministry felt there was need to further deliberate issues related to them, they said.

The DAC was to deliberate on the offsets issues related to the 145 ULH deal with the US and another tender to procure 16 Multi-role Helicopters for the Navy from vendors Sikorsky and NH Industries, which includes scam-tainted AgustaWestland.

The offsets proposal offered by the US Army for the ULH deal is not in compliance with the defence procurement procedure and the firm has sought deviation from it from the Army, which has not inducted even a single howitzer in the last 30 years.
The proposal regarding the amphibious warships or the Landing Platform Decks (LPDs) for the Navy was deferred under which the government had to decide on the inclusion of Cochin Shipyard Limited as one of the vendors.

The list of proposals cleared for the armed forces includes an IAF plan to upgrade 37 airfields under the phase two of the Modernisation of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI-II) project in which Tata SED will carry out the works under the Rs 1,127 crore project.

An Israeli firm has also been given approval to supply 252 air-to-ground stand-off weapon systems to the IAF under a Rs 622 crore project.

A number of projects to do away with the night blindness
of the Army were cleared including a Rs 4,000 crore plan to procure Hand-held Thermal Imagers with Laser Range Finders from Bharat Electronics Limited.

A project for procuring thermal imaging sights worth around Rs 3,000 crore was also cleared for the tank fleet of the Army including T-90 and T-72 tanks along with the BMP armoured personnel carriers was cleared by the DAC, sources said.

The DAC also approved a project to enhance the firepower of the three services by giving nod to procure 44,000 Light Machine Guns (LMGs), which will have to be manufactured in India.

The major chunk of over 40,000 of these guns will go to the Army, and the IAF and the Navy will get around 3,000 pieces from this acquisition.

The Army`s Special Forces also got approval for the Light Armed Multi-purpose Vehicle worth around Rs 1,200 crore under which 702 vehicles would be procured.

The DAC also approved a Rs 1,800 crore project to modernise five ordnance depots of the Army. The meeting also discussed IAF`s plans to procure Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) for the IAF.