3 minute readAntony calls for cutting down delays in defense supplies

The Defense Minister AK Antony called for a renewed focus on the cutting down of delays in defense procurement. Taking the example of the AWACS that was inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) today, he said, “Here the record speaks. We are told that today’s contract was signed in 2004. It took five years. Considering the history of other projects, it is not too long. But five years is too long in the emerging scenario. But it took so long because I was told this aircraft is designed to meet the special needs of the IAF, but now here, their excellencies the Russian ambassador is here, the Israeli ambassador is here. You have to give us another two. I hope with the cooperation of Russia and Israel and the hard work of our people, we will get the other two on time. If you can provide us on time, I feel the government can think of acquiring more AWACS in the years to come, because the security scenario is such that land, air and coastal security demands such sophisticated surveillance systems. So our defense secretary is almost ready to go to Russia. I’m told he’s traveling there on Sunday. I think that he will discuss the timely delivery of the remaining AWACS – not only AWACS but other systems on time.”

Antony also took the example of the British Aerospace Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer. “The decision regarding the Hawks was taken 20 years ago. It was inducted last year. This is a sorry state of affairs. But in the last five years, there has been a remarkable change in the atmosphere. A new momentum is there. That is why, in the last five years we were able to equip our armed forces with many of the most modern equipment. But I am aware that we have to further speed up. As I told you, the emerging security scenario demands that we must equip our armed forces with all the modern equipment, which they want. So in the coming years our government will try to see that. ”

Specifically referring to Russia, he said, “At the last meeting between me and the Defense Minister of Russia, we decided to speed up all defense procurement proposals. We have appointed a high level committee with our defense secretary and his counterpart in Russia as Co-Chairmen. The first meeting of that committee is going to take place in Russia on Monday. Most probably he’ll be reaching Moscow on Sunday.”

The Defense Minister also indicated cost escalations to be a function of delays in production and delivery. “Cost escalation is a problem. Not only with Russia, with some other countries also. The real answer is to try to get delivery on time. We are now constantly in touch with all the countries that are supplying equipment to us. They should try to see that all equipment ordered is delivered on time. Now we are taking these issues up at the official level. We are also trying to impress upon those countries at the highest level that getting into a contract is not enough. They must deliver the products on time. Recently now, there’s some improvement as result of our constant monitoring and constant taking-up issue with the highest authorities with those countries concerned.”

So what do you think?