- The IAF had moved the proposal to buy 20 Hawk advanced aircraft from a British firm.
- 2It has been stuck for more than two years now over the issue of steep increase in price of the planes.
- 3The contract for the last batch of 57 planes was done between India and the British firm in 2010.
Indian Air Force’s plan to induct 20 Hawk advanced aircraft for displaying aerobatic skills has been stuck for more than two years now over the issue of steep increase in price of the planes.
The IAF had moved the proposal to buy these 20 planes from a British firm during the UPA regime as it wanted to replace the Kiran Mk 2 planes with the Hawk Advanced Jet Training jets to be equipped with smoking pots to fly with the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT).
“The deal has been stuck over the price issue for more than two years now as the price demanded is way too beyond the benchmark which the Defence Ministry had set for the project,” IAF sources told Mail Today here.
The contract for the last batch of 57 planes was done between India and the British firm in 2010 to help in the training programmes of the Air Force and the Navy to add to the existing fleet of 66 planes bought in 2004.
“Based on the contract in 2010, we had kept aside funds for the project. For example, if we take the cost of each aircraft as per the last contract to be Rs 100, we were expecting the cost of the planes in this contract to be maximum Rs 120 but it has now gone to Rs 170,” the sources said.
IAF sources said it would be difficult to justify such steep price hikes but it is causing delays in our plans to have new aircraft for the SKAT team which is pride of the force and country.
The original aircraft manufacturers declined to comment on the issue saying they were not the prime partner in the deal and working with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the contract. Top HAL officials also declined to comment on the issue.
The deal for the 20 airplanes has gone through many problems earlier also as the file related to the procurement case had mysteriously gone missing from a department under the Defence Ministry in 2014 leading to a delay of more than a year in completing the lapsed process. The old Surya Kiran team was disbanded in February 2011 after its HAL-built Surya Kiran HJT-16 Mk I and Mk II aircraft were diverted to train fighter pilots.
FLIGHT CHART ::
1. The IAF uses the Hawk AJTs for training its fighter pilots during their initial years in the force along with the Pilatus basic trainer aircraft.
2. The role of Pilatus and the Indian made HTT-40 would be increased in the coming years.
3. Due to the delays in finalising the deal, IAF has pulled out 12 Hawks as an interim measure & given it to the SKAT for continuing its national and international displays.
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