Close on the heels of the CBI registering an FIR against former defence minister George Fernandes for corruption in the Barak defence deal, the naval officer who evaluated the Israeli system on Wednesday said he had objected to its purchase.
Vice Admiral (retired) Madanjit Singh, who was then chief of the Navy's Western Command, claimed his objections to the Barak anti-missile system were seen as 'dissent'.
"Initially during the test firing, there were some failures and as a result of that I had raised objections about the Barak missile which were subsequently dealt with," he told a private news channel.
"Nobody is saying that it was a bad system, but it has been designed for the Israeli Navy and their operating procedures are vastly different from ours."
"They have smaller ships, they go (out to sea) for few hours. Our ships go out for several weeks at a time," he said.
Singh said the Navy had Russian anti-missile systems, including those fitted on three Krivak-class frigates, that had a 'better performance'.
Noting that reports based on field trials were the "most important inputs" for all major arms purchases, Singh said he and his colleagues got the impression that the objections to the Barak system were "viewed as professional dissent".
Fernandes, his associate Jaya Jaitley and then Navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar were named by the CBI in an FIR regarding corruption in the Rs 1,150-crore Barak deal with an Israeli firm in 2000. The charge has been denied by Fernandes, who claimed the Navy had endorsed his decision to buy the system.