Friday, October 16, 2009

Continuous saga of delay in defence contracts, Army's struggle with choppers

[AĆ©rospatiale SA 315B Lama - Known as Cheetah in India]

How many defense contracts are signed on time in India? And how many executed on time? Anyone submitted a request according to RTI act on this issue? It is a naked truth that a vast country like India which have not so friendly neighbors and constant floods on different parts of the nation requires a powerful and dynamic support from air. Many parts of India are inaccessible through land and many border posts of the army are heavily depended on air for survival.

The story is not different for people caught in floods and forces ho lead the campaign against Maoists in the deep forests.

Choppers are widely used for transportation of materials and humans to the remote parts and inaccessible terrains. Everyone knows that every machine have successful working time. Did you heared about any machine continuously working for ever?

Army uses Cheetah(AĆ©rospatiale SA 315B Lama) helicopters for material transportation and causality evacuation at an astonishing heights of 20,000 feet or more. The sad fact is that these choppers are of 1970 vintage, already completed approximately 40 years in service.

The 3,000 crore tender for the procurement of 197 choppers(133 for army rest for Air force) canceled after finding discrepancies. Then new tenders are issued. According to the procedures after floating tenders government will invite companies for field trails - summer trials, winter trials, validation trails etc.

But government is yet to invite any company for trails moreover Bell pulled out of the contract citing the offset clauses. Even if trails started in next year the new helicopters will not arrive before 2013-14. 5 critical years after the scheduled time.

Remember that these choppers are the lifeline of thousands of troops deployed across high altitudes. What is the problem with us? Now a days deals after deals are delayed, postponed or re tendered. Aircraft carriers, Trainer aircraft and many other programs suffered the same fate.

What will happen if suddenly a war started? Who will support the troops in high altitudes? 40 year old Cheetahs? Who will provide the food and ammunition to the troops in border?

Government have to make swift decisions on these issues. These are high priority tasks which cant be postponed.


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