Graft derails IAF's basic trainer procurement

Graft derails IAF's basic trainer procurement

India conducted a technical trial of three aircraft last month with the plan of buying 75 basic trainer aircraft, to replace its vintage HPT-32 fleet. Out of those shortlisted, Swiss firm Pilatus was the lowest bidder and the obvious winner of the Rs 4500 crore deal ($ 1 billion).
But the Defence Ministry received a complaint from South Korea in which Pilatus's competitor Korean Aerospace Industries raised several questions on the Swiss firm's commercial bid. KAI and the US firm Hawker Beechcraft were the losers.

“A representation was received on basic trainer. The director general (acquisition) is examining it,” a top ministry official said here, confirming that no decision had been taken yet on the acquisition deal.

Incidentally, Defence Minister A K Antony said  on Tuesday that the government would not hesitate to take “extreme steps” if it detects corruption in an acquisition process, even though the process might be in the last step.

Since July 31, 2009, IAF has grounded its entire HPT-32  fleet following a fatal accident. As a result, the force is compelled to use second level Kiran MK-II fighters – famous for Suryakiran aerobatics – for basic training. With the Kiran fleet being used for basic and secondary-level training for the new comers, the IAF has reduced the number of Surya Kiran shows to a bare minimum so that its training schedule is not affected.

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