The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, which met in New Delhi on Saturday, approved the purchase of two Airbus A330 aircraft for the AWACS project worth Rs.113 crore. The Indian Air Force is already flying three AWACS mounted on IL-76 transport aircraft under a joint Russia-Israel project.
Airbus was the only bidder in the AWACS programme and the approval for purchase of the aircraft is the first deal in a single-vendor situation that has been sanctioned by the DAC.
AWACS are integral part of modern air operations and the Indian Air Force acquired the capability in 2009 when first of the three A-50 EI Phalcons was inducted.
Though purchase of two Airbus 330 aircraft has been approved, the plan is to have six such aircraft. AWACS provide a 360-degree view of an area. It allows to keep an eye on the enemy territory without actually penetrating the border.
The IAF is hoping that the AEW&C is ready for induction by the end of this year. It became critical to go for the second generation platform as Pakistan has bridged this crucial technological gap negating the lead taken by India in this field. China already has its own systems in operations.
Before he left for Japan on his maiden foreign visit, Parrikar also approved purchase of 1,512 mine ploughs for T90 tanks. These are going to cost Rs.710 crore. In addition, 30 weapon locating radars worth Rs.605 crore would also be bought.
The DAC also approved certain deviations in the offset policy for the purchase of harpoon missiles for the Indian Navy, which had been sanctioned earlier. Under the programme, 22 Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the US have to be purchased for Rs.913 crore for submarines. The US government has already approved the sale of Harpoon Block-II missiles and 10 Harpoon encapsulated training missiles. These will be fitted in Shishumar class submarines of the Indian Navy.