The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Tuesday approved the purchase of 106 basic trainer aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force, along with other proposals at a total cost of over Rs 8,700 crore.
In a statement, the Defence Ministry said its apex defence acquisitions body approved proposals worth Rs. 8,722.38 crore “to strengthen the Armed Forces by relying on indigenous capability to take forward the initiative on Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
HAL has been given an order for 106 basic trainer aircraft which will “address basic training requirements of the Indian Air Force”, the statement said.
HAL has developed the Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), a prototype of the Basic Trainer Aircraft for which the certification process is underway. Once HAL gets the certification, the government will buy 70 trainer aircraft, and the remaining 36 planes will be procured once the HTT-40 fleet of the IAF becomes operational, the ministry said.
Initially, the HTT-40 project had faced issues of acceptance from within the IAF. However, on Sunday, the Defence Ministry put the basic trainer aircraft under its new negative imports list, with an indicative imports embargo of December 2023.
The DAC also gave the go ahead for an upgraded version of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited’s Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM), which is fitted as the main gun onboard Navy and Indian Coast Guard warships, “to improve the fire power”.
The upgraded version, the Defence Ministry said, “has enhanced capability to perform against fast manoeuvring targets like missiles and fast attack crafts and increase the maximum engagement range”.
The DAC also approved the procurement of 125 mm Armour Piercing Fin Stablised Discarding Sabot (AFPDS) ammunition for the Army as a “design and development case”, and it will have 70 per cent indigenous content.
Another project that has been stuck for a while but has been mentioned in the negative imports list is the 7.62×39 mm assault rifle (AK-203), to be produced by the Ordnance Factory Board in Amethi. The project has been stuck over the issues over pricing with Russia, as it is an OFB- Kalashnikov joint venture.
The Defence Ministry in its statement said the DAC had given “approvals that are likely to speed up the procurement of AK-203 and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle upgrades”.
Sources clarified that the approvals for the AK-203 project are related to some technical issues and waivers on certain procedural issues to push the negotiations.
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