MoD clears mega deals for radars, missiles, Navy vessels, AWACS

In the past few weeks, the defence ministry has cleared proposals to buy several thousand crore worth of military hardware, including four hydrographic survey vessels for the Navy for Rs 2,324 crore and two Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) for the Air Force for Rs 3,306 crore.

Israel, which has emerged as a leading arms supplier to India, will rake in a major chunk of these contracts.

The go-ahead by the ministry, which had not signed new deals in the past few months because of the week economic situation — the exceptions being contracts for Basic Trainer Aircraft, additional Su-30 MKI fighters and Mi-17 V5 helicopters — basically empowers the armed forces to start the procurement process, which can take more than three years to get finalised, for the weapons systems.

In another significant decision, the ministry has given an exception to Israeli firm ELTA to reduce its offset obligations to just 10 per cent of the contract, down from the mandated 30 per cent. ELTA is in for a major deal for new generation air and missile defence radars — the armed forces have proposed to buy six of these for Rs 3,310 crore — that can detect and track incoming missiles and aircraft as well as direct defence systems. The firm is also set to bag a Rs 950 crore contract for additional Recce and Imaging Pods and ground exploitation stations for Su-30 MKI fighters of the Air Force.

Israel Aerospace Industries, which manufactures missile defence systems for Indian warships, too is set to get a major contract — valued at Rs 700 crore — to fit the Navy's under-construction indigenous aircraft carrier with long range surface-to-air missile systems, sources said.

There is something for the Indian defence industry as well: the ministry has cleared four new hydrographic port survey vessels for the Navy and wants them built indigenously, much to the cheer of Indian shipyards eying the Rs 2,324-crore contract.

Besides private firms, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which recently signed a deal with Russia to manufacture 42 Su-30 fighters, is likely to get an order for 45 Advanced Light Helicopters. The helicopters, estimated to cost Rs 3,310 crore, will come in three variants — utility, armed, special operations.

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