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April 3, 2017

Teeth for combat choppers, eyes in the sky, long range missiles: DAC agenda for today


Defence Minister Arun Jaitley is to chair a Defence Acquisition Council meeting today which will, among others, smoothen the acquisition of the S-400 long range missiles, clear an AEW&C system for the IAF and fast track the purchase of anti-tank missiles for the Army's Rudra helicopters.

This is Jaitley's first DAC meeting as defence minister since he took over additional charge of the ministry on March 13. The DAC which is the MoD's principal body to clear capital acquisitions, is expected to remove the offset clause in the Request for Proposals of five S-400 'Triumf' long range missiles to be acquired from Russia for over $5 billion.

An intergovernmental agreement (IGA) on the sale of the S-400 was signed last October between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 17th India-Russia summit in Goa. Russia insisted on waiving the offset clause that mandates a reinvestment of 30 per cent by the country in Indian aerospace and defence sectors, to speed up deliveries of the missile system. A DAC waiver on the mandatory offset clause will mean the S-400 deal can be signed with Russia sometime this year.

The DAC is also expected to take a call on the scrapping of the Short Range-Surface to air missile (SR-SAM) project for the Indian Navy. The project 'Maitri', being jointly developed by France's MBDA in collaboration with the DRDO, is meant for all three services. The Navy is believed to be pursuing an alternate replacement for the Israeli 'Barak' short range missiles currently installed to protect principal surface combatants from enemy missiles.

Another item on the DAC agenda is a Rs 1900 crore purchase of an additional DRDO-Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Embraer 145 jet. The first DRDO-developed radar fitted on the Embraer and dubbed the 'Netra' was handed over to the IAF at Aero India 2017 on February 15. A second 'Netra' is to be delivered later this year.

Also on the DAC agenda is the purchase of 124 Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) launchers and 1326 missiles for Rs 724 crore for the indigenously-built Rudra helicopters. The Army has ordered 60 ALH Rudra Mark-IV armed helicopters a few years ago but they currently do not have an ATGM because the indigenous Helina (Helicopter launched Nag) missile is yet to enter service.

The 124 ATGMs are expected to fulfill a critical void in the Army's fleet of 60 Rudra gunships which are on order.Two ATGMs, MBDA's PARS-3 and Rafael's Spike ATGM have been short-listed. These will be fast-tracked without the initial trials that will be done post the contract. The contract is expected to entail re-configuration by the manufacturer- the world over ATGMs are usually in a quad pack but the Rudra has only a two-tube launcher.

 indiatoday

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