RM Manohar Parrikar conveys DAC : A Detailed view
Working towards its promised modernized military, the man in command RM Manohar Parrikar chaired the all crucial Defense Acquit ion Council (DAC) meeting yesterday. The RM assisted by the defense secretary and the three chief of staff met in South Block, New Delhi to discuss the future course and held discussions regarding the future acquisition for the strengthening of the forces. DAC has cleared several important acquisitions which promise to keep the nation ready to face any atrocities it may face from its unstable and unreliable neighbours. Even though the DAC meet was conveyed on Friday, it remained inconclusive on several issues and had to be cut short owing to the unplanned departure of RM Parrikar to Goa on a undisclosed emergency.
The highlight of the DAC is undoubtedly the clearance for the acquisition of nearly 48 Mi-17V-5 medium lift helicopters for the IAF. These Mi 17V-5s are slated to replace the aging Mi-8 helicopter fleet, which is currently the air force mainstay lift copter force. IAF currently operates nearly 150 Mi-8 copters and relies on its lift capabilities for all operations across the nation. The Mil Mi-8 copters were acquired from the Russians to mainly supplement the forward operating forces. With these airframes aging and unable to serve at higher altitudes the IAF acquired the latest Mi-17V-5 medium lift copters from Russia in 2008 under a speculated US $ 1.4 billion deal.
The air force currently operates a 70-strong Mi-17V-5 fleet and has placed an order for nearly 199 copters which were placed in 80+71+48 phased manner. DAC has now cleared another 48 Mi-17V-5 copters to be acquired from the Russian firm. In support to NDA’s ambitious, Make in India campaign the deal will mandate the Russian firm to team up with an Indian private aerospace partner to manufacture the copters indigenously in India.
DAC has also addressed the needs for Air Traffic Control (ATC) radars raised by the Air Force. IAF will now get the ‘ATCR-33S SRE’, all weather ATC radar manufactured by BEL. The ‘ATCR-33S SRE’ is an S band Air Traffic Control. Radar which is suitable for Terminal Control Applications (TCA). The radar is extremely accurate and versatile thus guaranteeing hinder free operations across IAF bases. The radar works has two beam riders, with the S Band beam rider acting as the primary rider and the L Band beam rider acting as the auxiliary beam rider. The radar enjoys an operational range of 130 kilometres.
The Air defense squadrons of the IAF have received a shot in the arm with the DAC clearing the induction of 7 additional Akash SAM batteries under a US $700 million deal. IAF is currently operating 8 squadrons of Akash missiles, with each squadron comprising of 8 Akash missile launchers plus the support systems consisting the radar ground control and resupply wagon. The L&T facility in Coimbatore is currently capable of manufacturing nearly 360 missiles per year. The government is also considering of ramping up the production with more than 3000 missiles under order and with the product lining for export to other friendly nations the production sure needs a boost.
The Navy has received a lesser share of the pie as against the trend this time around. DAC has approved navy’s plan for operating harbour tugs in an estimated 300 crore deal. DAC has cleared the path for acquiring 8 Chetak helicopters for the navy. Even though these platforms were introduced in the late 60’s, these are still in at the HAL line for the armed forces. The plans to acquire the multi-role helicopters have been stalled after scam charges were made against the bidders.
With the P 75 project nearing completion the government is venturing all options to open up the bids for the P 75I tender at the earliest. DAC has in principle accepted to speed up the process and has demanded to be briefed in the following meetings.
DAC has also cleared Army’s proposal for the construction of multiple short span reinforced steel bridges in collaboration with L&T across Kashmir. These bridges once completed will guarantee faster movement of the forces, hence enhancing the response time. The proposal for acquiring UAV raised by the Army has been left untouched and is to be addressed in the coming meetings.
Edit - Karthik Kakoor