PM orders review of $300-m deal to buy air snoop systems for RAW

Posted: Sun Mar 20 2011
New Delhi:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ordered the review of a $300-million contract to purchase air surveillance systems for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the premier foreign intelligence service, after an internal assessment by the Cabinet Secretariat indicated a lapse in vendor selection without conducting user trials.

The Cabinet Secretariat last week set up a High-Powered Committee — almost a year after US firm Raytheon alleged irregularity in the selection of Israeli Aircraft Industries’ Elta — to inspect RAW’s tender process for the purchase of electronic snoopers on aircraft operated by its air wing Aviation Research Centre (ARC).

The Sunday Express had first reported this controversy on November 28 last year.

The March 11 order says the three-member committee would be chaired by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and includes a retired Air Chief and a senior official from the Finance Ministry.

The panel has been asked to examine the selection procedure and suggest correctives for any error. The first meeting of the probe team is slated for end-March, one of the committee members said.

Sources said the new committee had been formed because an internal review by Secretary (Public Grievances & Coordination) Ajit Seth sided with other ministries’ view that Elta should have been selected after user trials, as is the norm in all defence purchases.

RAW had sought speedy CCS approval saying that Elta’s price quote would expire in December 2010. IAI quoted almost half of Raytheon’s price. RAW reasoned that Elta had all components required for the surveillance assembly. The system includes electro-optical and infrared sensors for enhanced vision and night vision for strategic surveillance missions.

Source : Indian Express

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