After Russia protests, MoD to take call on $2.5 bn deal

After Russia protests, MoD to take call on $2.5 bn deal

The defence ministry is set to take a call on a $2.5-billion purchase of new air defence systems for the Army after Russia strongly protested the selection of a South Korean manufacturer and sought a re-evaluation, claiming it was unfairly disqualified.

The high-powered Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) is expected to look into the matter this month and decide on a way ahead for the critical purchase of selfpropelled air defence gun missile system (SPAD-GMS), people aware of the development said.

The Indian Army wants five regiments of the guns that can be deployed with forward moving forces and can be quickly relocated on the basis of threat perception.

After extensive trials in all terrains, including the deserts, the only system to qualify for the 104 systems contract was the K-30 Biho (Flying Tiger) developed by South Korea’s Hanwha Defense. Two separate systems offered by Russia — upgraded Tunguska M1 and Pantsir missile systems — failed the tests, with the most critical being mobility trials where they could not perform as per the requirements, sources said.

While Hanwha was shortlisted early last year, the case has not moved ahead to the next stage of price negotiations mainly due to several objections and complaints by the Russian side, including a formal complaint to the ministry’s internal monitoring committee that monitors acquisition cases.

Russia is seeking another chance for field trials to prove its systems meet all technical requirements.

The Army, however, has been satisfied with the quality of the trials and is believed to be in favour of moving on the acquisition case to the next stage of price negotiations, sources said.

Selection of the K-30 Biho came as a shock to the Russian side that has been the traditional supplier of mobilised ground systems to the Indian Army.

A final call on the matter will have to be taken by the DAC, where the issue is expected to come up shortly. Report of the internal monitoring committee will be taken into consideration before a final decision is made.

The case for acquisition of the air defence systems commenced in 2013, with all competitors going through several rounds of trials that took two years to complete. The selection of K-30 Biho was the second major win for a Korean system in India, after the procurement of the K-9 `Vajra’ self-propelled artillery systems.

By: ET