India’s defence ministry Saturday cleared a project worth Rs.32,000 crore for 12 mine sweeping vessels to be made in the country, along with some other projects including one for buying 38 basic trainer aircrafts.
In a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the government also cleared acquisition of 38 Pilatus basic trainer aircraft. However, the remaining requirement for the trainer aircrafts after this acquisition will be met by home-made planes, sources said.
Sources from the defence ministry said the manufacture of the 12 MCMV (Mine Counter-Measures Vessel) will have Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) as the lead agency.
In November 2014, the ministry had scrapped the Rs.2,700 crore deal for acquiring two minesweeper vehicles from a South Korean firm after it was found that there were violations of tender conditions as agents were in the play.
“The whole process will be started from scratch. The vessels will be made on India,” an official said. He added that there could be foreign partners in the project.
The other major project cleared was for buying 38 Pilatus P-7 aircraft for training pilots.
India has already acquired 75 Pilatus aircraft against a projected requirement of 181 planes and 59 of these have been inducted.
Sources said the rest of the requirement will be met by HTT40 (Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40) aircraft manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Officials added that number of planes can be increased to make the manufacturing viable. “Adequate orders will be given to HAL to make this commercially viable project. The number of aircraft can be increased,” an official said.
The council also cleared buying one Hercules C-130J aircraft to replace at the cost of Rs.533 crore to replace the one that crashed last year.
The council also discussed buying amphibious US-2i aircraft, but no decision was taken as the it was felt further discussions are needed on the issue.
No decision was taken on the bid by Airbus-TATA consortium to replace the ageing Avro transport aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force.