The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) on Wednesday criticised the Navy for adopting a “flawed approach,” in not finalising the weapons package while acquiring the MiG 29K fighter plane for aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (Gorshkov).
The CAG said that while 11 of the 16 aircraft acquired for Rs. 3,450 crore were delivered between December 2009 and May this year. No item of armament contracted for was delivered as of October last year, “adversely affecting the operational capabilities of the aircraft.”
The report said that in February 2003, the Defence Procurement Board approved the selection of MiG 29K as the deck-based aircraft and the Navy began negotiations for the plane.
The Navy, it said, was guided by a promise of the Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC) that the weapons would be supplied within 18 to 24 months from the negotiations for the aircraft and decided to include an armament package on a “cost not exceeding'' basis to take approval of the Competent Financial Authority (CFA).
In January 2004, the CFA approved the procurement of 16 MiG 29K aircraft with the armament package still under finalisation at un-negotiated cost not exceeding Rs. 641.59 crore. In July 2005, the Ministry approved undertaking of negotiations with the RAC but was critical of the approach to buy the aircraft without its weapons.
“Though, as mentioned above, decision to delink the negotiation for the armament and aircraft was based in part upon the assurance given by the RAC MiG that the weapons would be supplied within 18-24 months, the contract ultimately signed had a delivery period of 49 months. Thus, even though delivery of MiG29K was delayed by more than two years, failure to freeze requirements and conclude the contract resulted in the fighter aircraft being delivered and exploited without ammunition,” the report noted.
It said that till October last, the Navy received just one system meant for preparations of weapons, out of the 26 items contracted for. The 18 different types of armaments, six spare items and one publication each for operation and maintenance are yet to be received.