Saturday, 27 December 2014

Air force modernisation: Parliament panel slams MoD’s “lackadaisical approach”

A Tejas light fighter comes in to land at Uttarlai air base, Rajasthan

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 27th Dec 14

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence has sharply criticised the meagre allocations of funds to the Indian Air Force (IAF), given its long shopping list of aircraft needed for boosting air power.

The government has allocated the IAF less than half the capital budget the service had requested for this year, with no funding for purchases like the Rafale fighter and modernisation of Jaguar fighters and IAF bases.

The committee notes that “…as per (Defence) Ministry’s own submission the impact of shortfall in Capital Budget will lead to slowdown of modernization, delay in induction of new capabilities and resultant asymmetry in capability with respect to threat perception… This appears to demonstrate a lackadaisical approach of the Ministry.”

The parliamentary panel reveals in its “Fourth Report on Demands for Grants (2014-15)”, which was tabled on December 22, that the IAF had projected a requirement of Rs 62,408 crore for capital purchases this year. Against that, it was allocated only Rs 33,711 crore, half its request.

“The Committee are baffled at such a meagre allocation as Air Force has a long list of projects planned for induction during the year 2014-15…” the committee notes, listing out the Rafale fighter; the planned fitment of high-power engines into the fleet of 100-plus Jaguar fighters; a range of new helicopters, and an on-going project to modernise all the IAF’s air bases.

While the IAF’s capital allocation of Rs 33,711 crore amounts to over one-third of the total defence capital budget, most of this --- Rs 31,056 crore --- is pre-committed for “Committed Liabilities”, i.e. instalments due on purchases made in earlier years (many defence buys are paid over a duration of 7-10 years).

For “New Schemes”, the IAF has been allocated just Rs 2,645 crore, barely one-fifth of the Rs 12,395 crore that the air force said was required.

The first instalment of a fresh defence contract, payable at the time of signing, is usually 15 per cent of the contract value. In projecting a demand of Rs 12,395 crore for “New Schemes”, the IAF was effectively demanding the wherewithal to sign fresh contracts worth Rs 82,633 crore. That means, with Rs 12,395 crore paid out this year as the signing amount, liabilities worth Rs 70,238 crore would be carried forward as “Committed Liabilities” payable from future budgets.

Instead, by allocating Rs 2,645 crore for “New Schemes”, the government has allocated the IAF the funds to sign fresh contracts worth about Rs 17,633 crore. After the down payment this year, about Rs 15,000 crore would be carried forward to the coming years.

The committee is as scathing about the slashing of the IAF’s revenue budget. Against the IAF’s projection of Rs 27,073 crore, the government allocated just Rs 20,507 crore, a shortfall of Rs 6,566 crore. Since the government could only marginally bring down the IAF’s projected payroll of Rs 11,032 crore (by Rs 702 crore), deep cuts came in the non-salary expenditure, which includes cost of fuel, transport and training. Under this head, the IAF’s request for Rs 16,642 crore was pared by Rs 5,765 crore to Rs 10,877 crore.

Terming the scenario “dismal”, the Committee recommends that additional revenue funding be provided, especially for aviation fuel, “since scarcity for fuel will adversely impact training facilities and the Committee are apprehensive that any compromise in training will be detrimental for the safety of our pilots. The Committee wants to be intimated about the same.”

The Committee has also strongly backed the IAF’s repeated pleas to boost its strength of fighter squadrons. The IAF has told the panel that, against its sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons (each is authorised 21 fighter aircraft), there are just 25 squadrons available today, with another 14 squadrons of MiG-21s and MiG-27s retiring by 2024.

The report says the “country’s security requirements are being compromised by ignoring consistently widening gap between sanctioned and existing strengths. The Committee desire that concrete and prompt steps be initiated expeditiously to induct sufficient number of functional platforms and a status report in this regard be submitted to the Committee.”

The committee is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member and former Uttarakhand chief minister, Major General BC Khanduri (Retired). In the committee is an unusually heavyweight set of 21 Lok Sabha and 10 Rajya Sabha members. These include prominent BJP MPs like Murli Manohar Joshi; Hindutva champions Vinay Katiyar and Tarun Vijay; pro-military activist, Rajeev Chandrashekhar; former prime minister HD Deve Gowda; former Congress chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and cabinet minister Ambika Soni.

Capital allocations to military (2014-15)
(all figures in Rs crore)

Committed Liability
New Schemes

Not known
Not known


Air Force


victor raj said...

Reduce the no. of soldiers to 8 lakhs. Just stop recruiting.

J. Sashi Bhushan said...

Sir is this all a precursor for doubling the defence budget of the country

kulari94 said...

Increase the defense budget to a minimum of 5%.

ashok said...

The ineffecient corrupt outdated redundant mod setup be modernised by retiring 18000employees of mod in delhi with all class 3,4and majority of class 2 posts also abolished and reduced and in place have a integrated mod of service and IFS , IAS officersINCLUDING MAJORITY OF SERVICE OFFICERS , BANKERS CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS , SCIENTISTS FROM DRDO , ATOMIC ENERGY , ISRO WITH TOTAL STRENGTH NOT MORE THAN 300 and presided by aquisation and modernisation boards having ex business lumanries of repute