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September 17, 2014

Crucial file on procurement of jet trainers goes missing from defence ministry

In an unusual development which has raised eyebrows, a crucial file connected to the procurement of additional British Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) has gone missing from the defence ministry.

The MoD has ordered an inquiry into how exactly the file went missing, which will lead to a major delay in the aircraft acquisition, and the officials found guilty of "acts of omission or commission" will be punished, said sources.

India had first ordered 66 twin-seat Hawk AJTs in March 2004 and then another 57 in July 2010, at a combined overall project cost running into Rs 16,000 crore, to train rookie IAF and Navy pilots in the intricacies of combat flying.

The file that has now gone missing dealt with the procurement of another 20 AJTs for IAF's famous Surya Kiran aerobatics team, which has not flown for the last three years due to a lack of proper aircraft.
The overall AJT project, with the first 24 trainers supplied directly by BAE Systems and the rest 119 being progressively manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd under licence in India, will cost well over Rs 20,000 crore by the time it's fully completed by 2017-2018.

This is the second time in recent years that a crucial procurement file has gone missing from the MoD. A key file connected to the $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project for acquisition of 126 fighters had also vanished three years ago, just when the high-voltage competition was coming to a close.

It was later found from a locality in New Delhi under mysterious circumstances and handed over to the IAF by a civilian.
- timesofindia

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