October 28, 2015

Defence ministry to clear military deals worth Rs 5,000-cr

The government is set to clear two major military purchases from Russia days before Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's visit to Moscow, including a comprehensive upgrade of India's Ilyushin transport aircraft fleet and the acquisition of 150 new armoured fighting vehicles. Parrikar, who is set to leave for Russia on Friday, is also likely to discuss the possible acquisition of two new Kilo class submarines for the Indian Navy that is battling with a depleted underwater fleet. India currently operates nine Kilo submarines under the Sindhughosh class and had lost one to a major explosion at the Mumbai harbour in 2013  .The two submarines are being offered as a quick option to fill gaps as St Petersburg already has a line of advanced Kilo class submarines under production for the Russian Navy as well as a Vietnamese order.
 Sources told ET that a high powered committee on acquisitions is set to clear a Rs 4,250-crore project to Russia for the upgrade and enhancement of the air force's transport fleet of IL 78 and 76 aircraft.  The project will not only increase the service life of the aircraft by up to 20 years but will also give both aircraft enhanced avionics. 
More importantly, the upgrade will also involve fitting new engines to six of the IL 78 midair refuelers that will give the aircraft a longer range as well as the capability to carry extra fuel. The Indian fleet is likely to be fitted with new PS 90 engines that can increase the load carrying capability by almost two tonne. The air force has been particularly worried about its midair refuelers with a contract to purchase new generation tankers from Airbus under the Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) project stuck for over two years on pricing issues. 
The other Russia-linked project likely to be cleared is for the purchase of 150 BMP 2/2K armoured fighting vehicles for the Indian Army. The project, worth.`950 crore, will be executed in India by the Ordnance Factory Board on license from Russia.  Parrikar is set to visit both Moscow and St Petersburg and would, among other things, set the agenda for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia in December.


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