Thursday, April 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Nod to purchase of 66 AJTs

NEW DELHI, April 19 (PTI) — In a major step to enhance the cutting edge of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government today announced approval of procurement of 66 advanced jet trainers (AJTs) and short-listed the French Alpha jet and British Hawk for the trainer.

The information was given by Defence Minister George Fernandes in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Though, the minister did not indicate whether the nod had been given to the French Alpha jets or the British Hawks in information given to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, he, however, indicated “a single vendor situation has been reached and we are looking at the Hawk offer to negotiate on flyaway aircraft”.

According to UNI, the British Hawk had been selected.

The Defence Ministry also informed the committee that 10 additional SU-30K aircraft had been procured to bring up their strength in the Indian Air Force 50 jet fighters. The committee asked the ministry to give the go-ahead for the licensed production of the state-of-the-art Sukhoi in the shortest possible time.

Besides these major defence armament purchases, the committee also asked the government to go in for speediest acquisition of other vital equipment like airborne-warning and control system (AWACs), high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), mid-air flight refuelling aircraft, additional Mirage-2000 jet aircraft and MIG-29 upgrades.

Even, while impressing on the government for a quick go ahead on the multi-million dollar T-90 tanks deal, the committee asked the government to fully satisfy itself on the technological, financial advantages as well as the suitability of the tanks in the Indian terrain.

According to the Parliamentary report, the Russians had initially quoted a package deal worth 2.65 million US dollars bringing the offer down to 2.2 million dollars after negotiations.

The committee also stressed on the government to ensure that fresh major defence acquisitions were free from “misapprehensions and controversies of any kind”, saying any new misgivings had the potential of creating confusion in the armed forces.

It rapped the Defence Ministry for not showing “any sign of seriousness in acquiring weapon locating radars (wlrs),” saying that the absence of these had adversely affected Indian Army operations during the Kargil conflict.

The report said the committee was perturbed that the Army technical delegation which had gone to France to evaluate the Cobra WLR system had not made a formal report. It asked the ministry to reopen negotiations with the Ukrainians for acquiring WLRs, some in fully deployable conditions and some in kit conditions.

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