New Delhi: With security of coastal areas coming in for greater attention in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, the Indian Navy is all set to “hasten” the process of acquiring six medium-range maritime reconnaissance aircrafts, bids for which have been submitted to the Defence Ministry.
“Bids were submitted by the contenders in November last year before the Mumbai attacks. But with an urgency to fill the gaps in security of coastal areas, the acquisition process for these aircraft will be hastened,” Defence Ministry sources told PTI.
The bidders for the contract include American Boeing with P-8 (a derivative of P-8I), Russian Illyushin, French Dassault Falcon and EADS. The request for proposal (RFP) for procuring these aircraft was floated by the Ministry in June 2008.
“Right now the bids submitted by the contenders are being evaluated by the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) of the Defence Ministry. By the end of this month, these companies are expected to submit their offset proposals to the Ministry,” they said.
Under the Defence Procurement Procedure 2008, it is mandatory for the companies awarded defence contracts worth over USD 300 million to invest 30 per cent of the total amount back in the Indian defence sector. After going through the technical and offsets bids, the Ministry will shortlist the contenders who meet the requirements.
“Flight trials are expected to be held in the second-half of the year. Trials would be held at both the vendors’ locations and here,“ sources said.
The Ministry, sources said, is expecting to finalise the deal by the middle of the next year.
With endurance of over six hours, these aircraft will help Navy’s P-8I to carry out surveillance in areas up to 200 miles from the coast.
Surveillance in areas beyond this distance will be carried out by the P-8I’s, which are going to replace the Russian Tupelov 142 aircraft.
“The MRMR would be equipped to carry out only anti-surface warfare, unlike the P-8I, which is capable of both anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare,” sources said.
The government recently signed its biggest ever defence deal worth over $2.1 billion with the US to procure eight long-range maritime surveillance P-8I aircraft from Boeing.
The MRMR aircraft will be joining Dorniers and the Il-38s of the Navy and the Coast Guard to secure coastal areas. Navy will have 11 more Dorniers for the purpose.
Islander aircraft are also being used by the Navy currently but it plans to phase them out once new aircraft are inducted. Last year, India had gifted two Islanders to Myanmar also.