Rs5000 crore IAF contract for missiles, trainer jets in final stage

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force will breathe a sigh of relief with two crucial defence deals, together worth over Rs5,000 crore, being cleared for final consideration by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The two deals concern the acquisition of 75 Swiss turbo-prop aircraft to train fresh pilots as well for the acquisition of around 450 advanced French MICA missiles to arm upgraded Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters.

MICA missileDefence ministry sources say the two deals have now been "sent" to the Cabinet Committee on Security for final clearance after "clarifying all objections" of the ministry of finance. "The contracts will be inked after the CCS clears within a week or so," said a source.

The move to acquire 75 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers assumes urgency as IAF's 114 piston-engined HPT-32 jets have been grounded since August 2009 because of repeated engine failures.

The IAF is keen that the Pilatus trainers get into action from July 2013.

The IAF is already inducting 123 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers) but these are meant for "advanced'' combat training.

The contract for 450 fire-and-forget, all-weather MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) systems with French company MBDA, too, has been hanging fire for quite some time.