The fate of a Rs. 3,000-crore deal to equip the armed forces with 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters (RSH) remains uncertain in the aftermath of the controversial VVIP chopper deal.
The army has conveyed to the defence ministry that the role of a brigadier, who allegedly sought bribes to swing the deal in favour of UK-based firm AgustaWestland, needs to be probed before taking any decision on the deal.
It was found during the course of Italian investigations into the Rs. 3,760-crore VVIP chopper deal that an Indian Army officer had demanded $5 million to influence the contract for 197 helicopters in favour of AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian defence group Finmeccanica. The officer was identified as “Brig Saini.”
The proposal to purchase these choppers came under the scanner due to technical deviations from the tendering process.
The defence acquisition council, headed by defence minister AK Antony, will take a final call on the proposed acquisition.
Rs 2,820 crore to help combat at night
The defence acquision council cleared proposals worth R2,820 crore to improve the night-fighting capabilities of the army.
The force will now buy 5,000 thermal-imaging sights for its tanks and infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) to enable soldiers to fight in both day and night conditions. The sights would be procured from defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited.
In all, 2,000 thermal-imaging sights would be bought for T-72 tanks, 1,200 units for T-90 tanks and 1,800 pieces for ICVs.