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August 27, 2014

IAF copter deals to be on agenda at defence meet on Friday

The big ticket purchases of Chinook heavy lift helicopters and Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) are on the agenda of the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) slated for Friday.
Sources said earlier this month, the Defence Procurement Board (DPB) headed by the defence secretary had cleared offset proposals for the two contracts estimated to be worth $2.5 billion. This paved the way for the deals to be placed before the DAC before final approval is sought from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
This will be the second DAC meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. If the two contracts are cleared, they will be the first big contracts finalised by the NDA government.
The first meeting of the DAC held last month had cleared defence contracts worth Rs.21,000 crore and ended a logjam over private participation in the manufacturing of military aircraft.
The IAF has plans to purchase 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters. The Chinooks are estimated to cost around Rs.7,000 crore. The Apaches are expected to cost a little less.
Apart from the two big ticket contracts, the defence ministry's decision is awaited on several other pending projects of the Navy and Army.
There is an overall concern about the acute shortage of helicopters in the armed forces. The Army and the Navy are the worst-hit.
The Army is awaiting movement on its proposal to buy 197 light utility helicopters, but the acquisition has been marred by several controversies. The DAC will have to take a call on burying the contract or resurrecting it.
Several contracts for the Navy and the Army are also awaiting decisions. Projects worth Rs10,000 crore for improving the Navy's submarine fleet and adding tanks and artillery power to the Army are on the anvil.
Considering that the first meeting of the DAC under Jaitley was highly productive, the armed forces are hopeful that major projects will move forward.
-  Indiatoday

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