For the first time, going beyond the domestic aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and to give impetus to the domestic aviation industry, the Defence Ministry on Monday decided to opt for a foreign vendor that can partner with even private players to manufacture 56 transport aircraft.
The Defence Ministry cleared a proposal worth over `12,000 crore to procure 56 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force to replace its fleet of vintage Avro planes.
In a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, the IAF proposal to issue a global tender for procuring these aircraft was cleared, Defence Ministry sources said here.
“The first 16 aircraft will be procured off-the-shelf from foreign vendors, who will have to partner with a local private or public sector firm,” they said.
The next 16 aircraft will have to have 30 per cent indigenous component, while the remaining 24 planes will have 60 per cent locally-procured and produced items.
The first of the 56 aircraft, set to replace the Avro transport aircraft in the IAF, will be delivered four years after the signing of the contract.
Asked why the state-run HAL was not going to be involved in the project, they said the PSU was already burdened with projects such as the SU-30MKI production and upgrades of IAF aircraft fleet, including the Mirage, MiG 29 and Jaguar aircraft.
HAL has a vast helicopter division and will also be involved in the forthcoming M-MRCA project for producing 126 combat aircraft, the sources added.
They said the 56-aircraft project would help in developing a domestic aerospace industry and capability to undertake such projects.
The IAF fleet of Avro aircraft was inducted from the 1960s and are used for transporting men and material. The aircraft can carry loads of up to 7-8 tonnes.
The decision has opened doors for private sector players like Tata, Mahindra and Reliance, which can form a consortium with the foreign vendors. IAF has been keen on giving a chance to private players to develop an alternative to HAL.
In recent times, the government has also taken cognizance of the IAF’s complaints regarding the delayed delivery of equipment by HAL.
There have been delays in some projects like the Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) Hawk.