Air Force buys five times more expensive UAV engines: CAG

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Supply of substandard aero engines against expensive deal, investigation recommended.

New Delhi, 24 September: The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed in the Parliament that the rigging has been done in the purchase of UAV Rotax engines for Unmanned Aero Vehicles (UAV) for the Indian Air Force.

The report tabled in Parliament recommended an inquiry to determine the responsibility, blaming the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Israeli company for this financial loss. Not only this, there have also been accidents due to the supply of substandard engines as opposed to expensive deals.

The report stated that the Air Force entered into a contract with Messrs Israel Aerospace Industries in March 2010 to supply five 914F (certified) UAV Rotax engines for Rs 87.45 lakh per engine.

The audit report stated that the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) under the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) had procured Rs 24.30 lakh per engine in April 2012. Apart from this, the average price of this engine in the international market is between Rs 21 lakh and Rs 25 lakh.

The CAG said this resulted in an unfair profit of Rs 3.16 crore to the Israeli company as it supplied UAV engines at a price five times higher than the market price or the price paid to the DRDO unit.

The audit report also mentioned that the Israeli company supplied the unmanned engines to the Indian Air Force instead of certified engines as per the deal.

The report states that these unproven engines have resulted in many accidents, including the loss of a UAV in a flight accident.

The auditor has recommended investigating the wrong engine supply case. The investigation has been recommended to determine the responsibility, holding the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Israeli company responsible for this financial loss. For this reason, accidents have also occurred due to the supply of substandard engines as opposed to expensive deals.

The CAG report also informed about negligence in the case of upgrading Russian Mi-17 helicopters.

In 2002, the Air Force proposed to the Ministry of Defense to upgrade the Mi-17 helicopters. Due to laxity and indecision in the ministry’s plan, no decision could be taken in this regard for 15 years.

The Ministry of Defense in January 2017 contracted with the Israeli company to upgrade 90 M-17 helicopters. As a result, these helicopters have been flying limited for 18 years, compromising operational preparedness.

The report raised objections as to why it took 15 years to contract with the Israeli company to upgrade the Mi-17 helicopters.

Not only this, the CAG said that as per the contract, the work of upgrading these helicopters was to start from July 2018 and be completed by 2024. Within two years, 56 of the 90 helicopters were to be handed over after upgrading and the remaining 34 helicopters would be upgraded in a phased manner by 2024.