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Penalise late suppliers: IAF Chief

Special Correspondent
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An aircraft and a helicopter are ready for the Aero India show that begins on Wednesday at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore.— Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash
An aircraft and a helicopter are ready for the Aero India show that begins on Wednesday at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore.— Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, whose force has been plagued by late deliveries of fighter planes and aeronautical technologies, on Tuesday called for imposing financial penalties on laggard design and production centres.

“The IAF’s modernisation plans have been somewhat restricted because many of its projects have slipped their timelines,” he lamented at the Aero India seminar here. “We need to execute financial penalties in case of poor performance of work centres by withholding payments and recovering some of the money spent.”

Apart from ‘tweaking’ the present project management practices of the public sector agencies that design and manufacture military hardware, “We have to stop importing and start doing things more and more indigenously” as the IAF moved to become a force to reckon with, he said.

The IAF depended on Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for its fighters, trainer aircraft and helicopter fleet. The company had slipped on delivering the required number of Sukhoi-30 fighters, Hawk advanced trainers and in completing the Intermediate Jet Trainer Sitara and basic trainer HJT 36 for induction. Also, HAL should double its R&D spend to about 15 per cent, he said.

The IAF had waited for over a decade to induct Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, which was yet to qualify for induction.

Air Chief Marshal Browne offered tips on running crucial aircraft projects meant for the Air Force: keep the design and production activities together; involve the user-agency IAF in production plans, monitor the progress and make the work centres accountable.

As part of its modernisation plan, the IAF would acquire 350-400 aircraft in the current 12{+t}{+h}Plan. The hotly contested MMRCA (medium multirole combat aircraft) will be finalised in fiscal 2013-14. Some of the recent purchase deals include 10 Boeing C-17 transport planes; six C-130J special operations planes, Pilatus PC7 MkII trainers, 22 Boeing Apache strike helicopters and the Agusta 101 VVIP helicopters.

In the just-ended 11th Plan period, Indian companies reaped a surprising 217 contracts worth Rs. 84,000 crore. This formed 66 per cent of the 325 contracts that the IAF signed totally worth Rs 1.52 lakh crore.

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