Government has not received any proposal to set up new commands to handle country’s space assets, cyber infrastructure and for controlling commando operations, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

In a written reply, he said that “no proposal to set up three new commands to handle threats to country’s space assets, cyber infrastructure and for controlling commando operations has been received by the government.”

Any such proposal, as and when received, will be considered in consultation with the concerned, Mr. Antony said.

In reply to a question on alleged misuse of defence aircraft by VIPs, he said, “As per the existing instructions, only Prime Minister is entitled to use Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft for non-official visits for reasons of security as well as for due performance as the head of the government.”

He also denied that any bill is pending in connection with the visits of the Prime Minister.

“No bill is pending for payment in connection with Prime Minister’s non-official visits from December 2006 to December 2012. Bills for airlift for use of IAF aircraft are raised by IAF from time to time and necessary action is taken thereon,” Mr. Antony said.

He replied in the negative to a query whether the operational life of a large proportion of combat and cargo aircraft and helicopter fleet of the IAF is going to end in the near future, he said. “The IAF operates a fleet of aircraft of varying vintage,” the Minister said.

Mr. Antony also said that upgradation, replacement and phasing out of aircraft is an ongoing and continuous process.

On whether financial irregularities have been reported in Scorpene project, he said, “A complaint was received alleging financial irregularities against the then Director in-charge of Scorpene Submarine project in a Defence Shipyard. The complaint is under enquiry.”

Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh also told the House that weaponised version of Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) “Rudra” has been handed over to the Indian Army by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (ALH) on February 8, 2013, at Bangalore.

In reply to a question on products of DRDO lagging behind their schedules, Mr. Antony provided several reasons for the delays including ab-initio development of the state-of-art technologies, non-availability of trained and skilled manpower and non-availability of infrastructure and test facilities in the country.

Technological complexities and enhanced user requirement and change in specification during development and increased in the scope of work also caused delays.

Some of the products which have been delayed include Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) whose probable date of completion in December 2008 was shifted to December 2012. The date of completion for naval version of the LCA was in March 2010, which has now been shifted to December 2014.

The Airborne Early Warning and Control System which was to be completed in October 2011, has now been shifted for March 2014.

The Long Range Surface to Air Missile will now be completed in December 2015, instead of March 2011.

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