Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A.K. Antony has said that defence deals will not be rushed into at the cost of transparency. The government is taking all efforts to modernise the armed forces in the earliest possible time. Any reference from responsible quarters on issues of corruption will be probed, he said while addressing members of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee members attached to his Ministry here on Monday.

In the past, there have been controversies relating to deals with some companies “under a cloud” and “we will not proceed unless those doubts are cleared. We will not tolerate corruption,” he said.

Defence cooperation with other countries has undergone a sea change after the end of the Cold War.

India now sources equipment and platforms from many countries, including Russia, the U.K., France, Germany, Israel and of late, the United States. However, its relationship with Russia is time-tested and will continue, he said.

“We will not abandon old friends for improving relations with new ones.” Describing his recent Russia visit as “successful,” Mr. Antony said both countries had inked an inter-governmental agreement for the joint development and production of the fifth generation fighter aircraft. There is some delay in the delivery of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov but the two countries are trying to resolve the issues of discord.

Commending the role of defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs), he said their output last year exceeded the target by Rs. 2,000 crores. They have now matured to the extent of independently undertaking design and development work.