The Indian Defence Minister has recently made an announcement in the Parliament regarding the various contracts signed as part of the maintenance and capability-building exercises for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Defence Minister A.K.Antony indicated that crucial contracts that have been signed include the ones with RAC MiG Russia for upgradation of MiG-29 aircraft, Spets Techno Export from Ukraine for upgradation of An-32 aircraft and with the French firm Thales along with HAL for upgrade of the Mirage-2000 aircraft. In addition, tender for the acquisition of 197 Reconnaissance and Search Helicopters (RSH) is in its final stages.
Defence Minister A.K.Antony stated that various contracts to maintain the combative edge of the IAF fleet are being signed to meet emerging challenges. He added that mid-life upgradation of the fleet is a continuous process which will enable IAF to retain the combat relevance of the aircraft. Mr. Antony added that the IAF also processing a case for procurement of six Air-to-Air Re-fullers from the global market. The Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) envisages a timeline of about two and a half years from the date of issue of RFP to conclusion of contract in such multi-vendor cases. The Defence Minister added that there is no proposal before the government to buy Mirage 2000 V aircraft.
The various contracts and measures being taken reflect the Indian Defence Ministry’s long term vision for the Indian Armed Forces. These capability building measures involving both upgradation of existing systems and platforms as well as induction of state of the art modern equipment will help IAF to meet the upcoming challenges. The Defence Minister assured the Parliament that most of the projects and contracts are coming up as per approved time lines.
Besides the above-mentioned contracts that have been signed, the Defence Minister revealed that a contract has been concluded with state-run shipyard GRSE in September for construction of eight Land Craft Utility ships. These amphibious vessels are likely to be inducted in the Indian Navy during 2013-15. In addition, there is a proposal for procurement of 187 Light Utility Helicopters under design and development project undertaken by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The IAF and the Indian Army have already completed their field evaluation trials for procuring 197 Reconnaissance and Search Helicopters (RSH) and the tender is in its final stages. The two services are looking for single engine choppers. On the issue of an advanced engine for the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK2, the Defence Minister said that DRDO is negotiating with French firm SNECMA for co-development and co-production of Kaveri Aero Engine for the same.