Tech benchmark changed during NDA rule: Tyagi

FP

Former Air Chief S P Tyagi Wednesday claimed that it was the NDA government that had asked for the change in the vital technical requirements that Italian investigators believe helped the selection of the AgustaWestland helicopter for the IAF's VVIP squadron.

Sources said that an NDA government cabinet meeting in 2003 discussed lowering the chopper altitude requirements for the deal, and it was decided that the requirements would be relaxed to enable the entry of more vendors for a fair and competitive trial.

They said the decision was taken after it was impressed upon then defence minister George Fernandes that he should use other military aircraft to fly to Siachen glacier, as that needs a chopper which can fly at over 18,000 ft.

That cabinet meeting is also believed to have taken the SPG's concerns into consideration. The SPG had apparently stressed that bullet-proof seats were vital for the VVIP chopper, and also had specific requirements about the height of the aircraft's cabin.

Tyagi stressed that no changes in technical specifications were made while he was heading the Air Force — they had been changed in 2003, the year before he assumed office.

He also claimed that the changes were made on the basis of a letter signed by the then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra. "There was a letter by Brajesh Mishra. He said the technical requirements have to be changed," Tyagi told The Indian Express.

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