The serviceability rate of the Sukhoi Su-30 — a twin-engine multi-role fighter aircraft in service with the Indian Air Force — has risen to 60 per cent, said Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit on Thursday.
The serviceability rate or the availability rate is the number of aircraft ready for missions at any given time. Parrikar while speaking at an aerospace and defence seminar at Mahatma Mandir said that along with the Sukhois, the serviceability rates of the helicopter fleet with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have also risen after Rs 400 crore was invested in setting up after-sales-service units for both Su-30 and the helicopters.
“When I became Raksha Mantri, I realised that the Su-30 (Sukois), the main fighter of Indian Air Force has a serviceability of 46 per cent. The helicopter fleet of the Indian Army and Air Force supplied through HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) had a serviceability of somewhere around 50 per cent. It is too low. The minimum international standards one expects is about 70-75 per cent. Sometimes you can even achieve 80 per cent-plus. Because making one fighter available more saves you the cost of buying a new fighter (aircraft). You have 300 fighters and only 150 or 140 are capable of taking on the task, I think you are not good. We decided to improve this,” Parrikar told to an audience that consisted of officials from the Ministry of Defence and firms operating in the defence sector.
“The biggest problem I faced was after sales service. Defence PSUs considered after sales service as an expense and not an investment. Virtually convincing them in setting up a after-sales-service unit at various Army locations, took us almost a year. Finally when the board agree and we set up the unit. Today I am happy to say that Su-30 has already achieved around 60 per cent of serviceability and the helicopter fleet is more than 65 per cent. That is an achievement simply by investing around Rs 400 crore,” he said.
“Customer satisfaction is so much important that in the first one year I was having complaints on a daily basis; today hardly any complaints come,” the minister said while narrating his experience.
Pointing to the proposed sale of “Akash” surface-to-air missiles to Vietnam, Parrikar said, “There is a strange mindset. For example the Akash exports, there was a thinking that how can we give our technology to a third country.”
“India after more than 30 years, has successfully developed its own artillery gun… Field trail has been completed for Dhanush,” he said while talking about the 155m artillery gun which is largely based on the Bofors gun, but has a longer range of about 10 kilometers. This gun will be part of the Republic Day parade on January 26, officials said.
“Another self-propelled gun — 155mm — is in the final stage of being ordered. This is a joint venture between Larsen & Tuboro and South Korea’s Samsung. It has more than 50 per cent of the components which are Made in India. The first slot, probably, will be ordered during the current financial year. This is one of the Make in India project,” Parrikar said.
Talking about the improvements done to the Pinaka, a multi-barrel rocket laucher system that has a range of 30 kilometers, he said, “Today, we have already successfully test fired a guided Pinaka for 65 kilometers. This will provide a tremendous boost to the capability of the armed forces, once it goes into production,” the minister said.
“During the current year, 95 per cent of the acceptance of necessity (AON), that means clearance for procurement are either IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured) or Buy India. Which means, virtually 95 per cent of the almost Rs 96,000 crore worth of products for which we have given approvals this year, belongs to these two categories. That shows the importance of change in mindset in the procurement procedure. These are for capital procurement,” Parrikar said
“For the first time, defence items were being identified for private sector manufacturing. We are in the process of finalising the items and terms and conditions of the RFP (Request for Proposal),” Parrikar said.