The Indian Navy came in for a hard rap from the government auditor on Thursday for buying Russian MiG-29K combat planes without their weapons systems, rendering them toothless.
In its latest report presented to parliament, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said the navy followed a flawed approach in acquiring its new fighter aircraft fleet by not finalising the associated weapon package along with the contract for the aircraft.
The aircraft will be deployed on the carrier INS Vikramaditya when it is commissioned in the navy about two years from now after a refit in a Russian shipyard.
Of the 19 aircraft bought for $526 million in March 2004, 11 were delivered by Russia between December 2009 and May 2011. But, "no item of armament contracted in March 2006 had been delivered as of October 2010 adversely affecting the operational capabilities of the aircraft."
Further, the navy had selected a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile, a critical weapon system that provided the aircraft capability to shoot down enemy aircraft long distances away, with "an unsatisfactory track record" with the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF had bought the same BVR missiles for its Soviet-origin MiG series combat aircraft between 1999 and 2002, and had found its serviceablity "unreliable".
The navy had bought 40 of the air-to-air BVR missiles for $21.88 million (Rs.97.67 crore)
"Lastly, the complete armament package finalised for the (MiG-29K) aircraft contains certain ammunition worth $20.98 million (Rs.93.68 crore) which did not have the approval of the competent authority," the CAG report said.