With Prime Minister Narendra Modi heading to France, Germany and Canada next month, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Manohar Parrikar cleared projects close to Rs 8,341 crore on Saturday.
The DAC gave its approval for buying two Airbus A330 planes for R5,113 crore for the Indian Air Force, the radar for which will come from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In fact, the DRDO has been the key player behind the IAF’s smaller Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEWACS), which is based on the Embraer business jet from Brazil with AWACS systems (an Israeli airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) radar system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elta Electronics Industries of Israel).
European consortium Airbus Defence & Space had emerged as the sole bidder for a global tender for DRDO’s AWACS India programme. The tender — for six airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system aircraft — was issued in March 2014. Interestingly, sources have indicated that the European player was the only company to have responded to a request for proposals linked to the project.
As per officials, the commercial bids have yet to be opened for this programme, which is presently for two aircraft, of which four more could be bought, with an option of going up to 10.
Now, Airbus would have to integrate the mission systems on the aircraft and gain certification that it is safe to fly with the radome. Company officials had indicated to FE that there have been regular discussions between the DRDO and Airbus about the technicalities involved in this programme, which is actually ‘semi-make’ in India.
Though the defence ministry has given its approval for two of these aircraft from Airbus, once the contract is inked for the A330 as a platform for the Indian AWACS effort, it will be the first instance of the type being used in the AEW&C role. Airbus Defence & Space has also been involved in jointly reviewing New Delhi’s indigenously developed AEW&C system with India’s Centre for Airborne Systems, with the first Embraer EMB-145-based example likely to secure initial operational clearance later this year.
Approval was also given for buying 22 Harpoon missiles for for HDW submarines for R913 crore.
The government had sent a letter of request to the US administration for buying 22 Harpoon missiles for the Indian Navy’s Shishumar-class of submarines.
The Indian Navy has already ordered 26 Harpoon missiles for eight Indian Navy P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft for an estimated $200 million and 24 Harpoon missiles for the Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft in an order worth $170 million.
While India’s Hindustan Aeronautics is to integrate the missiles on to the Jaguar, Boeing will integrate them on to the P-8I aircraft itself.
Approval also was given for 1,512 mine ploughs for T90 tanks worth R710 crore and 30 weapon-locating radars from defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics for R1,605 crore.