Defence Acquisition Council clears heavy weight torpedoes, mid-air refuelling aircraft among major deals

Deals for heavy weight torpedoes, flight refueller aircraft and towed array sonars have been repeatedly delayed and the process now begins again

February 16, 2024 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Indian Navy’s fifth Scorpene class submarine ‘Vagir’ heads out for maiden sea trials. Photo: Indian Navy via PTI

Indian Navy’s fifth Scorpene class submarine ‘Vagir’ heads out for maiden sea trials. Photo: Indian Navy via PTI

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Friday accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN), the first step in the procurement process, for proposals worth ₹84,560 crore. The proposals include some long-pending deals such as for heavy weight torpedoes (HWT) for the Navy’s Scorpene-class submarines and flight refueller aircraft (FRA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Other major deals include medium range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime aircraft for the Navy and the Coast Guard, new generation anti-tank mines, air defence tactical control radar, and software defined radios.

“Further, to keep the Indian naval ships one step ahead of the threats posed by the adversaries, the AoN under Buy (Indian) category has been accorded for procurement of active towed array Sonar having capabilities to operate at low frequencies and various depths for long-range detections of adversary submarines. The AoN has also been accorded for procurement of HWT for enhancing the attacking capabilities of Kalvari class submarines,” the Ministry said. “The DAC accorded AoN for procurement of FRA for enhancing the operational capabilities and the reach of the IAF.”

Deals for HWTs, flight refueller aircraft and towed array sonars have been repeatedly delayed and the process now begins again. The delays were due to allegations of corruption and in the interim, the existing older generation torpedoes have been customised to fire from the Scorpenes. With delays in their procurement, the IAF has been looking to lease aircraft for training purposes and keep the existing six IL-78 aircraft for operational tasks.

The AoN for procurement of medium range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime aircraft, through the Buy and Make category, has been granted by the DAC for strengthening the surveillance and interception capabilities of the Navy and the Coast Guard over the country’s vast maritime area. These are likely to be developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) based on the Airbus C-295 transport aircraft.

The procurement of new generation of anti-tank mines having seismic sensors and the provision of remote deactivation with additional safety features has been approved under Buy (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM) category of Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020. “In order to enhance the operational efficiency and domination in the tactical battle area for engaging targets that are beyond visual line of sight by the mechanised forces, the AoN under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category has been accorded for procurement of canister launched anti-armour loiter munition system,” the statement said.

To strengthen air defence capabilities, especially the capabilities to detect slow, small and low-flying targets as well as surveillance, detection and tracking of different targets, the AoN has been accorded for procurement of air defence tactical control radar. The AoN for procurement of software defined radios for the Coast Guard will fulfill its requirement of having a “high-speed communication with secure networking capability for seamless information exchange between the ICG and the Indian Navy units.”

The DAC, headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also approved amendments in DAP 2020 to promote the procurement of advanced technologies from start-ups and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), a Defence Ministry statement said. The DAC has approved amendments in the DAP 2020 with respect to benchmarking and cost computation, payment schedule and procurement quantity.

The DAC also cleared the AoN for sustainment support through follow on support and repair replenishment for the 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters procured by the Navy from the U.S. under the foreign military sale route.

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