Friday, March 27, 2015

Whence Defense Procurement? Is logic in a quagmire?

Neelam Mathews               
March 27, 2015

Time, you old Gypsy man, will you not stay, Put up your caravan Just for one day?
All of us with an association with the defense industry know that the 1920 lyrics still hold good today. The fact is MoD is running out of time. While the intent is clear to move procurement forward, there seems to be a clear hiccup and lack of understanding in the bureaucrat arena on the DPP 2013 clause that requires Indian companies to be the prime. Rather paradoxically, this is the very reason that will hold defense manufacturing from taking off for large projects.
Take the Avro replacement. While OEMs will conveniently absolve themselves from the liability clause, one doubts Indian companies with little maturity and experience can take on liability of the equipment. One should learn from the MMRCA where in a reverse case, is the major reason Dassault is unwilling to take responsibility of behalf of HAL. Hopefully the DPP 2015 expected to be released soon will incorporate a clause of joint responsibility. We need to ensure OEMs don’t dump their old technology and run. If we don’t, it is unlikely there will be too much enthusiasm for a project that never took off.
Also, one hopes this government will show it has the gumption to take on its responsibility by awarding the single vendor- no I do not have affiliations!- the contract and move on. There is no point in giving umpteen chances to a company just to prove you are being fair- because that reverberates of AKA rule! Also, a re-tender will mean the same party with the same partner and 7 years of lost time. Also it will confirm this government is the same wine in a new bottle. The decision tomorrow on the Avro replacement will confirm which way the govt is moving.
And please- lets get on with the MMRCA- whether a smaller number or not. We can't ignore that the FGFA is caught in a political quicksand- and do lets remember the IAF promise towards commonality of equipment.
There is a need to move on the Japanese amphibious search and rescue (SAR) aircraft, for which we are being offered transfer of technology. Given the company in India is headed by a dynamic enthusiastic Chief, the ShinMaywa US-2 short take-off and landing SARs will be an asset to the Navy and Coast Guard and give a firm thrust to India's ambition of being a maritime leader in the region.

Mr Prime Minister as you head towards Japan, let’s not miss the boat.

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