In Upgrade Bid, IAF Looks Beyond HAL

For the first time going beyond the domestic aerospace giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the Defence Ministry on 23JUL12 decided to opt for a foreign vendor that can partner even with private players to manufacture 56 transport aircraft in an attempt by the MoD to boost the domestic aviation industry.

The decision was cleared at the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting chaired by Defence Minister AK Antony. The decision will help the Indian Air Force (IAF) explore options beyond the over-burdened public sector undertaking HAL which has long faced complaints of delays and quality control issues.

According to sources, “A tender for the acquisition of these 56 aircraft will soon be issued, [and] as per the tender provisions, it will be mandatory for the foreign vendors to select an Indian partner from [the] public or private sector.” The tender valuing around Rs. 12,000 crore will be issued under ‘Buy and Make India’ category of the Defence Procurement Procedures.

As per the proposal approved by the DAC, 16 of these aircraft will be purchased in fly-away condition from the foreign vendor, the next 16 will have 30 percent indigenous components and the last 24 will be 60 percent indigenized. The first of the 56 aircraft set to replace the Avro transport aircraft in the IAF will be delivered four years after the signing of the contract.

The decision has opened doors for private sector players like Tata, Mahindra and Reliance, which can form a consortium with the foreign vendors. The IAF has been keen on giving a chance to the private players to develop an alternative to the HAL.

In the recent times, the government has also taken cognizance of the IAF’s complaints regarding the delayed delivery of equipment by the HAL.  There have been delays in some projects like the Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) Hawk; delay in establishing the facilities for complex engine components and radar software in respect of SU-30 MKI fighter jets, delay in certification of Shakti engine by the Original Equipment Manufacturer in respect of Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), changes in Standard of Preparation (SOP) in respect of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and delay in development of engine for Intermediate Jet Trainer.

(DA 24JUL12)

Link to prior reporting: here

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