‘Delays in military hardware deliveries being addressed’

April 16th, 2008 - 10:16 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Admitting to delays in deliveries of military hardware, the government said Wednesday it was addressing the issue with the Indian and foreign vendors from whom the equipment had been contracted. “The government has entered into several agreements for procurement of various types of defence equipment from various indigenous as well as foreign sources, including Russia,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

“Delay in delivery of such equipment sometimes takes place due to various unforeseen problems irrespective of the source of acquisition,” he added.

“Hurdles, if any, met during execution of contract are resolved bilaterally at an appropriate level,” the minister stated.

Several big-ticket military purchases have suffered huge cost and time overruns in the past few years.

Among them are delays in the delivery of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov - now renamed the INS Vikramaditya - and the Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACS), as also the indigenous development of a main battle tank (MBT) and a light combat aircraft (LCA).

The Vikramaditya has been mired in controversy ever since the $1.5 billion deal for the ship was signed in 2004. Russia has now demanded an additional $1.2 billion for the deal and officials say the defence ministry has little option but to pay up.

The ship was originally to have been delivered in late 2007 or early 2008 but this has now been pushed back to 2012.

As for the Phalcon, the Israeli radar is being mounted on three IL-78 heavy transport aircraft that have been purchased from Russia. The lack of components has pushed back the delivery by a year and the first of the AWACS are expected to arrive only later this year.

This apart, Russia’s dithering over transferring technology for the T-90 MBT has delayed its licensed manufacture in India, forcing India to buy another 300 tanks over and above a similar number that had been purchased in 2001.

Licensed production of the indigenous Arjun MBT is yet to commence in spite of the project having been conceived in the late 1970s. Sixteen tanks were handed over to the Indian Army late last year for a second set of trials. However, there are indications that the army would order no more than 124 tanks that it has already contracted to.

A similar situation prevails with the Tejas LCA that first flew in 2000. However, deliveries to the Indian Air Force (IAF) are likely to begin only in 2012 - almost a decade behind schedule.

This has prompted the IAF to float a global tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft in a deal that is expected to valued in excess of $9 billion.

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