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HindustanTimes Sat,12 Jul 2014

Chopper row may hit defence preparedness

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 15, 2013
First Published: 00:10 IST(15/2/2013) | Last Updated: 00:12 IST(15/2/2013)

With the 2012-13 defence capital outlay already cut by 10% and revenue by another 4% to contain the rising fiscal deficit, the allegations of bribery in the half-a-billion Euro VVIP helicopter deal will further put the brakes on India's hardware acquisition process, and therefore affect the defence preparedness of the country.

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The scandal comes at a time when defence minister AK Antony had asked the armed forces to prioritise its acquisition for 2013-14 in the wake of sluggish Indian economic growth.

As Antony had made it clear to armed forces chiefs that he would not hesitate to cancel the defence contracts on a mere whiff of scandal, defence ministry officials would have to increase their due diligence and not merely rely on the advice of the armed forces for acquisition.

Officials said that while government-to-government acquisition or foreign military sales (FMS) route from the US for purchase of M-777 lightweight howitzers and Apache Longbow attack helicopters may continue, other acquisitions like medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), 155-mm field guns, 197 army helicopters and six air independent propulsion submarines could be affected.


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