38 Pilatus trainer aircraft to be bought from Switzerland

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New Delhi, Feb 28:  Government on Saturday cleared the purchase of 38 additional Pilatus basic trainer aircraft for the IAF from Switzerland and nominated state-run Goa Shipyard to manufacture 12 mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) for Rs 32,000 crore.

It also decided that future requirements of the trainer aircraft would be met by state-run HAL which would be given adequate orders for its HTT-40 plane to be commercially viable.

Govt to buy 38 Pilatus trainer aircraft

The Defence Acquisition Council, which met today, also okayed the purchase of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Indian Air Force to replace the one which had crashed in March last year killing five service personnel, including four officers, near Gwalior.

Chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, DAC decided to seek more information on the proposal to purchase at least 15 US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japan. No decision was taken on the bid by Airbus-TATA consortium to replace the ageing Avro transport aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force.

The major decision taken today was regarding the Pilatus aircraft. The Council decided to go in for the option clause in the deal that was originally signed in 2012. The original contract for 75 aircraft had the option clause of buying 50 per cent under same terms and conditions for three years. This option clause runs out in May and hence the Council decided to go in for that.

The force has so far inducted 59 PC-7 aircraft. IAF had calculated a requirement of 181 basic trainer aircraft (BTA) out of which 90 were supposed to be bought off the shelf and 91 made in India. However, the UPA government decided to go for a 75 aircraft contract with a 50 per cent follow-on clause.

"The remaining requirement will be met by the HAL which will supply its indigenously developed HTT-40. Adequate orders will be given to the HAL to make the development commercially viable," Defence sources said.

Defence Ministry had in November last year scrapped the Rs 2,700-crore deal

They said that the progress of this project will be monitored by a committee and it will periodically submit its report to the DAC.

Another big project was the MCMV one. The Defence Ministry had in November last year scrapped the Rs 2,700-crore deal for acquiring two minesweeper vehicles from a South Korean firm after it was found that there were violations of tender conditions as agents were in the play.

As per the deal, the South Korean firm was to build two ships while the remaining six were to be manufactured by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) under the transfer of technology pact.

The DAC has now nominated GSL to build 12 MCMVs under a project that will cost Rs 32,000 crore, defence sources said. They underlined that GSL, which has already invested about Rs 500 crore in setting up infrastructure for this order, will lead the path and tie-up with a foreign firm if needed.

PTI

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