Army is planning to procure 100 self-propelled artillery howitzers and three Indian vendors, including two private companies, have been selected for trial of their equipment, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha on Monday.
In a written reply to the House, he also said the recent amendment to Defence Procurement Procedure-2011 aims at giving higher preference to indigenous capacity in the defence sector.
"A case for procurement of 100 tracked guns of 155mm/52 Calibre (self-propelled) is in progress wherein three Indian vendors, including two private sector companies, have been selected for trials of their equipment," Antony said.
In reply to a question on procurement of bullet proof jackets for soldiers, Antony said no such jackets were procured during the last three years.
"The Request for Proposal (RFP) for procurement of 1,86,138 bullet proof jackets has been issued on December 7, 2012," he said. Antony also told the House that the entire fleet of Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) is being modernised on basis of the operational requirement of the Army.
"In the ICV fleet, armament and firepower capability are being upgraded with the latest generation Fire Control System, Twin Missile Launchers and Commander's Thermal Imaging Panoramic sights. These ICVs will also be equipped with the latest generation Anti Tank Guided Missiles and Automatic Grenade Launchers," he said.
Antony said the estimated cost of upgrading the fleet has been estimated to Rs 8,000 crore .
On procurement of 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) for IAF, he said the proposal is at commercial discussion stage with France-based Dassault Aviation.
"Given the complexity of the proposal, no definite time frame can be fixed at this stage," Antony said, adding that RFP stipulates delivery of 18 flyway aircraft within three or four years of signing of the contract.
Rest of the 108 aircraft will be license manufactured in India.
On a query over plans to set up radar stations along the island territory close to Lakshadweep, Antony said, "Ten radar stations in various islands, including six in Lakshadweep and Minicoy, are planned to be set up as part of the Static Sensor Project."
The total cost of the project, including setting up of radar stations at 10 island sites and 36 mainland sites is Rs 601.75 crore. The radar stations are likely to be operational by the end of 2013, he said.
The Defence Minister also told the House that an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) is proposed to be supplied to the Government of Mauritius in 2014.
On delay in Scorpene project to deliver submarines to the Indian Navy, he said the proposal for further extension of the delivery date is under examination.
"The project is delayed due to several reasons which include initial teething troubles, delay in augmentation of infrastructure, procurement of yard procured material and absorption of new process and procedures of completely new technology," Antony said.
On whether DRDO has developed an unmanned helicopter, the Defence Minister replied in negative.
Antony also denied that Indian Coast Guard has entered into any deal to procure eight medium lift helicopters.
He also denied that the government proposes to purchase helicopter-borne early warning system to boost the defence aviation wing.
On checking the credentials of vendors registered with the ordnance factories, he said, "All ordnance factories have been directed to recheck credentials of vendors registered with the factories for weeding out fictitious firms."
Such check would include onetime check of the owners of the firms, their address and other details and most importantly their manufacturing capacity by site visits and inspections.