November 7, 2016

Aircraft, helicopters and drones worth 75,000 crore on Parrikar's agenda in DAC meeting

Deals worth over `75,000 crore are expected to be on the agenda for defence minister Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Council including fighter aircraft, combat helicopters and mini-drones for the Army. ITEMS ON THE AGENDA During the meeting, the minister, top military brass and senior bureaucrats are also likely to discuss the final version of the policy to decide on blacklisting of firms and individuals indulging in wrongdoings and corruption in defence deals. The biggest item on agenda is expected to be the approval for the procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircraft for the Indian Air Force as part of the government’s effort to push Made in India equipment for the armed forces to reduce dependence on imports.
The 83 LCAs, expected to be cleared by the DAC, would be procured from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and would make for the Mark 1A version of the plane. The project cost is expected to be over `48,000 crore, senior defence ministry sources told Mail Today. The IAF has already placed orders for 20 LCA Mark 1 aircraft which would be more of technology demonstrators but the IAF was more interested in having the LCA Mark 2, which would be a more capable and upgraded version of the indigenous plane in the making for the last over two decades.
 The HAL would first deliver the Mark 1 aircraft to the IAF and then would produce the Mark 1A in the interim till the time it is ready with the Mark 2 version. The project would give a strong push to the indigenous fighter aircraft industry as this would be the first major bulk production order for the plane. HELICOPTERS Another major indigenous project likely to be discussed at the meeting is for the indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter by the HAL. “The Army is planning to place orders for 10 LCH choppers while the IAF would initially buy five of them,” the sources said. The LCH is the first Indian attempt to develop a combat chopper for which we have so far relied only on the Russians and Americans.
 The Mi-25/35 are of the Russian make while the Apache choppers are being procured from America for the IAF. The meeting is also expected to discuss the project for buying 498 mini-drones for the Army which plans to use them for improving situational awareness of the troops while participating in anti-terrorist operations. The mini-drones relay live pictures of an area to the troop commander and he can know the location of the hiding terrorists or can also see if militants are hiding at some place to ambush an Army platoon.
 The American forces used such drones extensively in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to detect and locate militants and avert attacks on its own troops. The Navy’s proposal for procuring 12 US-2 amphibious aircraft from Japan is also expected to come up for discussion at the meeting.


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