The defence acquisition council (DAC) on Wednesday cleared a slew of proposals including the lone bid of Airbus-Tata consortium to replace the Indian Air Force’s ageing fleet of Avro transport aircraft and accepted Russia’s offer to build 200 light-utility helicopters under the Make in India initiative.
The DAC, headed by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, also cleared acquisition of 145 pieces of M777 ultra-light Howitzers from the US under a government-to-government deal.
Proposals for six new BrahMos supersonic cruise missile systems for the Indian Navy, worth Rs 2,700 crore, and upgrading two Boeing 777-300 ER for VVIP travel were also accepted, defence sources said.
The council also constituted a panel to work out the modalities, such as price and offset, for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France cleared during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit.
The defence ministry had set the process to replace the Avro transport aircraft in May 2013 when it invited original equipment manufacturers, including US firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, European multinational Airbus Defence and Space and Antonov of Ukraine, to come up with their proposals.
They were required to tie up with an Indian private firm. However, only Airbus and Tata responded to the invitation. Under the current defence procurement policy, single- vendor situation is not entertained unless cleared by the DAC.
Wednesday’s decision to accept Airbus-Tata consortium’s bid to replace IAF’s 56 Avro aircraft with the C-295 transport carriers would cost Rs 11,930 crore.
As part of the deal, 16 aircraft would be bought off-the-shelf and 40 manufactured in India.
Another major bid cleared at the council meet is the Russian proposal to assemble advance twin-engine Kamov helicopters. The cost and other modalities for the 200 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters would be worked out later, defence sources said, pointing that some of them could be bought off the shelf.
The DAC also approved the request from the army – which desperately needs new artillery guns – for 145 pieces of ultra-light howitzers through the foreign military sales option. The BAE’s M777 Ultra-Light Howitzer project was initiated in 2008 but differences that cropped up in 2013 stalled the Rs 2,900 crore deal.
Under this government-to-government deal, the US would guarantee delivery and the price. “Spares, maintenance and ammunition will be operated through Indian systems,” a source said.
Army ammo reserves may last just 20 days of intense fighting, says CAG