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Parrikar orders probe into alleged trial manipulation in Rs4,000-cr missile deal: report

17 February 2017

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has formed a committee to probe allegations of manipulation of trials in the procurement of anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) from Israel.

A report in India Toady magazine quoting defence sources said there have been mismatches between the actual performance of the Israeli missile during trials and the report, which was filed by the officials later.

Negotiations for acquiring the third generation ATGMs from an Israeli firm, expected to be worth over Rs4,000 crore, started as far back as in 2009, but has since been delayed due to various reasons.

"There were allegations that some manipulations had taken place when the Israeli ATGM was going through trials. The defence minister has formed a committee to probe the charges and it will submit its report shortly to him," Mail Today quoted a senior government official as saying.

Reports said there have been allegations of a mismatch between the actual performance of the Israeli missile in the trial process and the report which was filed by the officials later.

The missile, which has a range of over 2.5-km and fire-and-forget capabilities, was put to trials in all the possible terrains in Indian conditions, including the high-altitude areas, plains and deserts.

The main issue with the report is about the trials done in desert conditions, say sources.

The Israeli firm, however, claims to have maintained total transparency and probity in the whole tendering process.

It may be noted that American firms were also in the race to supply the third-generation anti-tank missiles but were not considered while taking a final decision as they were not ready to share the full technology of the missiles.

The Army plans to buy over 270 anti-tank guided missile systems with over 8,350 missiles, which would be used to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units.

The deal also includes a technology transfer to India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to build another 1,500 systems and around 30,000 additional missiles in the future as the Army plans to induct more of these missiles.

If the deal is signed, the deliveries will take 48-60 months to commence after which the BDL would come into play.

The Indian side might also go for private sector industry participation so that the know-how can be used for an improved indigenous version of the missile in the future.

At present, infantry units are making do with second-generation Milan (2-km range) and Konkurs (4-km range) ATGMs, produced by BDL under licence from French and Russian companies, which are wire-guided and do not have fire-and-forget capabilities.

The Army has been allowed to keep over 81,000 different kinds of ATGMs, which are critical to stem enemy armoured attacks, but does not have even half of that number in its inventory.

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