Contract negotiations under way
The Indian Air Force (IAF) hopes to kick-start its $260-million Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure project, which envisages upgrading 30 airfields, in the first phase, over the next few weeks.
Contract negotiations are under way with a leading Indian corporate, and the pilot project will begin at the IAF base at Hindan, Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of Delhi. Sources in the IAF said the negotiations were on the verge of conclusion.
The American transport aircraft, C130 J Hercules, will be based in Ghaziabad. The IAF has placed an order with Lockheed Martin for six of these planes, which are expected to arrive next year. Besides the purchase of C130 J Hercules, the IAF will acquire 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. As these planes have been fitted with sophisticated avionics, the modernisation project has been envisaged.
The project includes supply, testing, integration and sustenance of the Instrument Landing System (ILS), the Distance Measurement Equipment, the Tactical Air Navigation System, the Air Traffic Management System, and the CAT-2 Airfield Lighting System.
In the first phase, the IAF will modernise 30 airfields, and the exercise is expected to be completed in 42 months. The Centre has made a provisional allocation of Rs.180 crore for the project in the 2009-10 budget, and the sum will be released after the contract is signed.
In the past two years, the Parliamentary Committee on Defence has made a special mention of the project; in its latest report, it has noted that as the IAF needs airfields from the strategic point of view, both the phases of the project should be completed expeditiously.
In Phase-II, 20-odd airfields, including those of the IAF, the Army, the Navy and the Coast Guard, will be taken up for modernisation. The Defence Ministry feels that based on the experience gained during the implementation of the first phase, the requirements of the second phase will be consolidated. The second phase is expected to be completed in 42 months.