Two much-needed weapon systems, mired in controversy for months after a series of complaints, will be placed before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) very shortly.
Specially appointed monitors have finally 'cleared' the two weapon systems-- the Very Short Range Air Defence System (VSHORAD) and the Self Propelled Air Defence Gun Missile System (SPADGMS)-- and they can be placed before the DAC headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh and including chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs. The green light for both systems came after a recent high-level meeting in South Block. Both are big deals and while the Russians are favourites for the VSHORAD project, the front-runners for the SPADGM system may be the South Koreans. The VSHORAD project is of course for all three services, the SPADGM System could accompany the Army's strike corps during offensive operations. Five regiments are likely to be procured.
Another much-needed project is also being readied for the DAC. This is for the production of 200 Russian Ka-226 helicopters to be manufactured jointly by Hindustan Aeronautics and the Russians. Of the 200, 135 will go to the Army and the remaining 65, to the Indian Air Force. This deal has been in the making for a long while and the helicopters will be replacements for the aging Cheetah and Chetak choppers. The decision to have HAL as a joint venture partner was taken by the Russians.
Several major issues will be placed before the DAC, likely on March 18 and perhaps, the last such meeting in this financial year. These include:
* two simulators for the Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) for the air force. These are valued at approximately Rs 300 crore each.
* fuses for bombs for the air force. They have been designed in India and is likely to be manufactured in India. About 15,000 fuses will be initially bought for about Rs 700 crore.
* The DAC will also look at the reduction in numbers of the Kamov-31 helicopter to be purchased for the Indian Navy. Instead of ten as earlier planned, six could be bought.
* Similarly, the Navy was to get four Multi-purpose vessels. Now, it could be two.