New Delhi: In an accusation of one of India’s most crucial defence deals, the central government’s auditor – Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG – has claimed that American aircraft manufacturing company Boeing was unfairly awarded a 2.13 billion dollar deal for the order of eight P8-I anti-submarine warfare aircraft from the United States in January 2009.
As per the report, the Defence Ministry “enhanced” or inflated the financial bidding of EADS/CASA of Spain to also include a 20 year product support cost package for the rival aircraft that they offered. The same product support package was ignored in the case of Boeing in the first instance.
The CAG clarifies that though a separate product support package was negotiated with Boeing, the overall package for anti-submarine aircraft was offered by Boeing which was more expensive than that offered by EADS/CASA which was offering a variant of the A-319 aircraft configured for a maritime reconnaissance role.
The government at last concluded an offset package worth 641.2 million dollars, or 30 per cent of the value of the main contract which has still not been fulfilled even seven years after the contract was signed.
From a technical perspective, the CAG report says the equipment onboard the advanced anti-submarine jets does not work as it was advertised. The radars which have been provided have got “capability limitations.”
Neither did the government attempted to acquire advanced versions of sonobuoys (buoy equipped to detect underwater sounds and transmit them by radio) or submarine listening devices on offer, thereby adversely affecting the capability of the jets in service.
The Indian Navy has received all eight numbers of P8-I aircraft and extensively operates these jets for its operations against Chinese and Pakistani submarines. A contract for four additional jets has been signed for one billion dollars and these will be delivered by 2020.
The Navy has also retired its whole fleet of Soviet-built Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft with the induction of the P8s.
The government at the centre has been time and again targeted for its unfair practices at every level. Few days earlier, it was targeted for not properly dealing Rafale fighter jets deal. There were allegations of corruption and paying of high prices despite having the option to pay a bit lower prices. The Modi government at the centre displays incapability to handle tight situations of criticisms due to the fact it commits such offences.