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Defence Minister to chair DAC meet this week

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IAF's Avro aircraft.

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will meet this week during which the issue of the US$ 2.5 billion Avro replacement programme is likely to be discussed among others.

Defence sources said that the DAC will meet either on March 27 or 28, just ahead of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's maiden foreign visit to Japan on March 30.

One of the main issues that is likely to be discussed is the lone bid of Airbus-TATA consortium to replace IAF's ageing fleet of 56 Avro aircraft with C-295 transport carriers.

A final decision was anticipated in November but Parrikar had sought more information about the necessity of the aircraft and the bidding process.

Accordingly, a special committee is looking into the details and procedures of the bid since only one consortium responded to the Request for Proposal (RFP).

"There is no problem. All issues are being looked into since we have a single vendor situation," sources said.

Under the current defence procurement policy, single-vendor situation is not entertained unless cleared by the DAC.

One of the options, besides selecting the consortium, is to go in for re-tendering in which the Indian companies become the main player rather than the foreign ones.

Another option is putting the project on hold and go ahead with the joint development and production of 'Multi-role Transport Aircraft' with Russia, defence analysts said.

In May 2013, the Ministry had issued RFP to original equipment manufacturers including US firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, European multinational Airbus Defence and Space, and Antonov of Ukraine among others.

They were required to tie-up with an Indian private company under which 40 aircraft will be produced in India while 16 will be bought off-the-shelf.

However, only a single bidder -- Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) consortium -- had bid for the proposal in October last year.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is keen to replace the fleet as it feels that the vintage Avro does not serve the purpose in the modern era.

IAF wants a replacement cargo aircraft with "back ram" and ability to land in "under-prepared ground" like in Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh.

Meanwhile, terming the bid of C-295 as an "elegant opportunity" for the government's push for 'Make in India', Airbus has said they cannot be faulted for being the only bidder.

Speaking to PTI last month, Kieran Daly, spokesperson of Airbus Military had said, "We understand the concern about that but we have pointed out that although we are the sole bidder now, we were not the sole candidate at the beginning. There were other aircraft in that class. The fact that other companies did not choose to be in, we cannot be faulted for that".

Tags:

DAC  Defence  Parrikar  IAF  Avro  Airbus  TATA  C295  Aircraft  
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