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Indian Air Force shelves three acquisition projects worth over Rs 8,000 crore to support Make in India and due to high cost

The projects which have been suspended include the Air force's plan to buy 38 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft, 20 additional Hawk planes from Britain, and a plan to upgrade 80 Jaguar fighter planes with engines from America.

The Indian Air Force has decided to suspend three major acquisition projects worth a total of 8,000 crore rupees. Air Marshal RRKS Bhadauria has said that there various reasons for each project which will not be carried forward. The projects which have been suspended include the Air force’s plan to buy 38 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft, 20 additional Hawk planes from Britain, and a plan to upgrade 80 Jaguar fighter planes with engines from America.

While speaking to ANI, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria said, “We are not going forward with the additional Pilatus basic trainer aircraft that we were intending to buy. Additional Hawks (trainer aircraft) were in the plans but at this moment it is also decided to be shelved. There was a Jaguar re-engineering plan which was totally imported and that project is also shelved.”

“We are going to go in HAL support and some other engine related upgrades that will help see through the fleet”, the IAF Chief further added. He informed that there are various reasons behind suspending the projects, including support for the Make-in-India initiative.

As state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics limited is in advanced stages of development of the HTT-40 trainer planes, the plan of acquiring 38 additional Pilatus Basic Training aircraft worth rupees 1000 crores was decided to be shelved. The Air force chief said the force would be buying 70 of these Made-in-India planes instead.

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The 20 additional Hawk plane deal expected to be worth around rupees 2000 crores has been shelved because the project was stuck for over 3-4 years now mainly over the price of the planes.

Another project relating to Jaguar re-engining was also shelved. The plan was to refit Jaguar fighter aircraft with F-125IN engines from US-based company Honeywell corporation. The Jaguar degradation plan was pending for a long time as India believed that the price quoted by Honeywell for the engines was too high.

According to reports, Honeywell was charging $2.4 billion for 180 engines, which include 160 engines for 80 twin-engine Jaguars, and 20 spare engines. That amounts to $13.3 million (Rs 95 crore) per engine. This would have meant that the cost of refitting one Jaguar would be Rs210 crore, including Rs 20 crore to be taken by HAL for the job. Due to the statement over the cost, IAF had put the plan on hold last year, and now the same has been cancelled.

On the other hand, Honeywell was unwilling to reduce the price alleging that IAF is not serious about the deal, due to the long delay the negotiations saw. The company said that they spent $50 million on the project including the purchase of two old Jaguars to integrate the engines, and spent another $50 million in contract-related cost. The company had said that it is unwilling to spend any more money on the project.

Indian Air Force plan to to acquire 450 fighter aircraft 

India plans to acquire 450 fighter aircraft for deployment on the northern and western frontiers of the country in the future.

The list of aircraft planned to be inducted by the Air Force includes 36 Rafales, 114 Multirole Fighter Aircraft, 100 Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and Over 200 variants of Light Combat Aircraft.

Adding that the induction of these fighters would take place over a period of the next 35 years as the inductions have to be planned to keep in mind future requirements. The IAF chief said, “In the next 15 years, 83 LCAs are our primary focus after that LCA Mark 2 will come in we are looking at close to 100 of those, that makes it near 200 of LCA class.” 

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