NDA changed specs, UPA implemented them: MoD

AugustaWestland

The Defence ministry Thursday made public details of the process that led to key changes in the technical requirements of the VVIP helicopter deal and said the decision to make the changes was taken in 2003 when the NDA was in power.

However, it also said that these changes were effected in 2005-06 when the UPA was in charge. The explanation note from the ministry came in response to allegations by Italian investigators earlier this week that business conglomerate Finmeccanica paid bribes to then IAF chief S P Tyagi to tweak the parameters to help its AgustaWestland choppers qualify for the bidding.

Tyagi has denied the allegations, first reported by The Indian Express, and has demanded an investigation.

The MoD note says that a decision to change the altitude requirements of the chopper a key factor according to the Italian probe was taken at a meeting on November 19, 2003 by then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra to avoid a single-vendor situation and to expand the search for a new chopper.

It says that the actual changes in the qualitative requirements were carried out between March 2005 and September 2006, after discussions between various stakeholders.

"Operational requirements were deliberated at length between IAF, NSA, SPG/PMO and MoD between March 2005 to September 2006 and the above indicated changes (as suggested by Mishra in 2003) were incorporated (sic)," the note says.

Tyagi had also said on Wednesday that the requirements were changed in 2003 on the directions of Mishra. But he had also said that no changes were made when he headed the force from 2004 to 2007.

The MoD note does not explain the two-year gap between the time the changes were agreed upon when the NDA was in power and their actual implementation. It says the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) - a formal document authorizing the purchase - was given in January 2006.

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