IAF to get one more C-17 aircraft

fleet power:The C-17s have enabled faster response during emergency situations.— PHOTO: R.V. MOORTHY  

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will procure one C-17 Globemaster III heavy lift transport aircraft to add to the existing fleet of 10. This was one the four proposals cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Friday.

The other three proposals, worth Rs. 7,184 crore, include protection systems for infantry vehicles, 3-Dimentional air defence radars and maritime surveillance aircraft for the Coast Guard.

The DAC, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, reviewed the current state of capital acquisitions and granted the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to the four proposals, defence ministry officials said. AoN is the first stage of approval in the procurement process.

Missed opportunity

In 2011, India purchased 10 C-17s from the U.S. through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route in a deal worth $4.1 billion which had a follow-on clause for six more aircraft. Since induction, the C-17s have become the symbol of India’s rapid airlift capability in responding to contingencies across the neighbourhood.

Boeing began shutting down the assembly line due to lack of further orders. In fact, 10 additional aircraft were manufactured and were offered to all existing customers. A warning was sounded to India for an immediate decision. However, a delay in decision making in the defence ministry meant that the IAF missed out on the opportunity.

Of the 10, nine have been picked by existing users of the aircraft and one remains with Boeing. A separate deal will now have to be negotiated with the U.S government due to which officials said the price is yet to be determined.

Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will supply 1,500 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection systems for the Army’s Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICV) in a deal worth Rs. 1,265 crore.

More radars

Army sources said that these are modern automated systems and will replace the existing manual ones in use. The Army and Air Force will get 55 low level light weight radars for their air defence regiments to replace the 2D radars in use. These 3D radars are indigenously designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Coast Guard has been given the go ahead to procure six multi-mission maritime aircraft and the suites for them will be designed by DRDO. The deal is expected to cost around Rs. 5,500 crore. The much expected policy guidelines on strategic partnerships was, however, not on the agenda.