New Delhi: The Government on Wednesday denied
reports of any irregularity in the purchase of six old utility
helicopters from the United States, which are being operated
by the Indian Navy.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Defence Minister
A K Antony said, "Six UH-3H helicopters were procured in
November 2006 at a total cost of Rs 182.14 crore from Foreign
Military Sales program of the USA."
"The Navy at that time did not have utility helicopters
in its inventory to operate from Landing Platform Docks, INS
Jalashwa. It was essential that helicopters be procured so as
to have their delivery along with the LPD to avoid additional
transportation cost," he said.
The helicopters were purchased to meet the vertical lift
requirement of the INS Jalashwa, also procured under FMS route
from the USA. It is the only amphibious ship with the Indian
Navy which can carry large number of troops and drop them
close to the shore.
"The induction of helicopters with the ability to perform
various roles like transportation of combat troops, vertical
replenishment, search and rescue and casualty evacuation was
necessary to enhance operational utilization of the LPD,"
He further said, "Procurement of new helicopters would
have taken a long lead time of approximately five years with
higher cost implications."
The Minister also informed the House on the observations
made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) regarding
"Observations made by CAG relates to air frame life,
flight evaluation, availability and functioning of on-board
equipment, delay in training and operationalization of
squadron and serviceability." he said.