The Ministry of Defence is inquiring into allegations of kickbacks in seven major deals relating to the acquisition of sub-systems worth thousands of crores. Investigations into six of these deals commenced in 2007.
One of the cases pertains to the procurement of multi-beam echo sounders for the Indian Navy — which is likely to be forwarded to the CBI, sources said. The multi-beam echo sounder is designed to perform seabed mapping and seabed imagery to full ocean depth with an unsurpassed resolution, coverage and accuracy.
The ministry’s chief vigilance officer (CVO) is currently investigating four of the remaining six “dubious deals”. They include the procurement of ground-based mobile ELINT systems, which constitute components of the Phalcon Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control Systems that were purchased in 2004 from Israel Aircraft Industries for $1.1 billion. The systems receive, analyse and locate radar signals covering 360 degrees.
The Rs 260-crore deal for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), navy’s first-ever, from Norway’s Kongsberg Maritime is also being probed by the CVO. Two potential vendors, UK’s Ms Hydroid Europe and US’s Bluefin Robotics Corporation, earlier this year, complained that the contract was awarded without floating of global tenders. They alleged guidelines were not followed.
Scrutiny also remains incomplete in respect of the ministry’s “suspect decision” to source 80 per cent electronic fuses required for artillery guns from one source and without floating a global tender.
Alleged irregularities in the Rs 600 crore deal — being probed by the CVO — were first reported by HT on September 26. The other major deal in this category relates to the procurement of mobile gamma scanners from Ms Rapiscan of the US.
The CBI is already investigating 48 cases concerning kickbacks in defence deals.
These include the Rs 1,125 crore deal with the Israel Aircraft Industries and its sister concern Rafael for the procurement of seven Barak-I Anti-Missile Defense Systems and 200 missiles.
Another case relates to allegations kickbacks totalling $3,65,9395 in the anti-material rifles deal with South African vendor Ms Danel Pty Limited.
For its part, the CVC has also been pressing the heat against ministry officials found guilty.
Last year, 62 defence personnel were dismissed or removed or put on compulsory retirement, while 23 others were reduced to lower time scale and rank and major penalties imposed against 31 others. A cut in pension was imposed against one official, while minor penalties were imposed against 36 others.