Decision on big ticket def projects likely this yr: Parrikar

Decision on big ticket def projects likely this yr: Parrikar

A decision on many big ticket projects like procuring the much-awaited fighter jet planes and self-propelled guns is likely to be taken this year, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today.

He said work on a second manufacturing line for indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will also commence in the next three months to boost production.

"Many of the private sector projects like SP (self- propelled) gun, C-295 (Airbus transporter aircraft) and even single and twin-engine fighter jets are in an advanced stage of decision making.

"We expect to get these in line during the current calender year," Parrikar told a news conference here after inaugurating the biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition -- Aero India 2017.

To replenish its fleet, the Indian Air Force is looking for new fighter jets. With another indigenous aircraft carrier to be inducted in service soon, the navy is also looking to procure over 50 fighter jets.

In his last interaction with the media as the air chief on December 29 last year, Arup Raha had said that the air force would need over 200-250 medium-weight category planes. The air force has already placed an order to procure 36 Rafale jets.

Criticising his predecessor A K Anthony and the UPA government, Parrikar said the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has been making efforts to augment production in different sectors, but earlier there was "no encouragement, there was no timeline and no discussion on Make in India".


Parrikar said HAL has been asked to outsource in "large quantity" several production areas in various sectors.

"For example, for the LCA model we are putting up a second (production) line for which Rs 359 crore has been approved by the government. It is expected this work will start in three months.

"In about one-and-a-half years the actual production will start. A lot of indigenous capability has to be developed through the local industry," the defence minister said.
With the navy disapproving of the present variant of LCA Tejas, Parrikar said it would be wrong to say the navy does not support the project. Instead, its requirements are different, he said.

"The project is thoroughly supported by the navy and all expenses are being undertaken. The LCA expansion (project) for eight aircraft has financial components coming from the navy and the air force.

"What the navy wants is a different variety and it thinks that a twin-engine one would be a better version. The LCA naval version has to be successfully tested," Parrikar said, adding that the navy has agreed to help in the project.

"The naval requirement has a different aspect and requires an engine with bigger thrust," he said.


The Defence Minister said in the coming years the Indian civilian aviation industry will require 1,000 aircraft while the defence sector will need 300 to 400 fighter jets and 800 helicopters.

"The aviation sector can boom. Helicopter engine requirement is 5,000, for new as well as for replacing old ones. Each engine has its shelf life, so there is a huge potential for Indian companies," he said.

With an aim to boost the startups, the government will create a new technology innovation fund for defence aerospace, Parrikar said.

"We are initiating a defence innovation fund with an initial contribution from HAL and BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited). The fund will support innovation and technology development in identifying areas and will be open to both Indian and foreign firms," he said.

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