Indian Navy Harrier Upgrade “Imprudent”, Partiality Shown To Israeli Firms: Indian Audit Watchdog

India’s national audit watchdog agency, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) has severely criticised the Indian Navy’s upgrade of 14 Sea Harriers. The Navy embarked on the upgrade — called the Limited Upgrade Sea Harrier (LUSH) programme — in March 2005.

The new CAG union audit report on the Indian Navy, tabled in Parliament yesterday, observes, “The contract for limited upgradation was concluded but only in March 2005. The delay was mainly on account of finalising technical requirements, issuing the Request for Proposal, conducting Technical Evaluation for the missile and associated radar. Not only did this delay defeat the very purpose of execution of the project on fast track basis but the Navy would also be able to exploit the upgraded Sea Harrier aircraft for a very limited period only, i.e about three years or less. Even subsequently, there were delays in the execution of the programme by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the first milestone of handing over two prototypes to Navy by February 2007 could not be achieved. Consequently, delivery of the remaining aircraft, scheduled for February 2008 was postponed to December 2009.”

Further, the report says, “The Sea Harrier has had, over the past few years, a very high attrition rate. In fact, subsequent to the time of mooting the proposal, in October 2001, Navy lost two aircraft in August 2003 and December 2004. Despite being aware of these facts, Navy initially committed all its aircraft for the upgradation though they ultimately reduced one aircraft from the final contract. Further they did not include any provision in the contract for payment on prorata basis depending on the number of aircraft upgraded by the vendor. As a result, after conclusion of contract, when more aircraft were lost in accidents, Navy had no option but to make payment of Rs 204.30 crore to HAL towards upgradation of these nonexistent aircraft lost in the interim period. Navy would, however, be able to setoff only Rs 16.16 crore payable to HAL for their services.”

Damningly, the CAG report also notes that the Navy was “predisposed” towards selecting the Rafael-made Derby BVR missile “even though the missile did not fulfil the needs of the Indian Navy”. The report notes, “The RFP issued in August 2003 stipulated that the IN’s requirement was for the Derby missile. As no corrigendum to the RFP was issued, clearly, competition in procurement was ruled out. As a result, although the RFP was issued to seven firms and an extension was granted till October 2003, only the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of the Derby missile responded. The trial directives were issued in March 2008 after scaling down the NSQRs at the instance of vendor. Consequently, the acceptable maximum range of the missile was reduced from ‘A’ Km to ‘B’ Km, which was 54 per cent of the original accepted range. Actual live firing of missile was conducted, in March 2008, on an upgraded prototype Sea Harrier aircraft at a range of ‘B’ Km for missile in mid envelope scenario (33 67 per cent). The vendor was unwilling to guarantee performance of the missile beyond the scaled downrange of ‘B’ Km. One of the basic aims of the acquisition of BVR Air to Air missile was to destroy targets at beyond visual ranges of up to ‘C’ Km. However, the missiles acquired failed to achieve the desired ranges in the live firing. The capability of the seeker, at the range prescribed in NSQR (‘A’ Km) was also not demonstrated in live firing. Moreover, the missile launcher design is being used for the first time for airborne operations.”

15 thoughts on “Indian Navy Harrier Upgrade “Imprudent”, Partiality Shown To Israeli Firms: Indian Audit Watchdog”

  1. So much for the Foreign maal. Even the Israelis don't have good systems that can reach A kilometers which is the Claimed brochure figure and reach only B kilometers which is half of it. Time for the Navy to go for only Indian systems. Time to invest in the development of Astra and fit it onto all Naval fighters from Mig-29 to Tejas.

  2. This is disgusting looks like corruption is in DNA of all Indians thanks Top brass to fleece our money.Please do make the best with our limited budget not to use it for personal purposes.

  3. We don't need Chinese or Pakistanis to destroy India. Our babu-neta-sipahi-baniya nexus will ensure the demise of this great country.

  4. I am not so concerned with the corruption aspect. Let's all be realistic, it happens!!!

    Instead of going for a limited upgrade, could the Navy have though of procuring and/or leasing the BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II (GR5, GR7, and GR9 series) from the Royal Navy. The HMS Invincible was decommissioned in July 2005, close to the time of our upgrade. Surely a good time to get us a good bargin for the harriers used on this ship.

    Just a wild thought…what'z the forums opinion?

  5. Derby is a fine missile (like a bigger Python). It's just not designated to be in the same class as the AMRAAM. It's also used in the SPYDER system.

  6. Harriers have very high man-hour to flight-hour ratio ie they need very high ( and expensive ) maintainence. The Blue Vixen radar fitted on Harrier has very limited range/ track capacity. Only missiles that could be fired with that radar were Magic 2 class short range ones. No wonder the navy wanted a better fighting platform. Elta EL/M 2032 fitted to upgraded Harrier is very capable medium range Pulse Doppler radar. It is designed to be used with Derby and so navy wanted that missile. Nothing wrong in going for a preferred choice: just like we went for Su-30 and now C17.

  7. shiv i think some of the things are better discussed only in parliament and not put up in open source like this.
    its ok to expose corruption but such articles have other implications also.
    i hope you understand..

  8. [email protected]: These observations are from a public document tabled in Parliament and posted on the website of the CAG (see the post). Your anxieties about "open source" are therefore redundant. Issues of mismanagement or irregularity should always be a matter of discourse and debate. And, note how the CAG doesn't reveal range figures etc in its observations.

  9. @Shiv

    Excellent reply. India needs people like you. We know our enemies outside this country. What about those inside the country weakening it like termites? It's warriors like you who will keep such internal enemies in check.Thanks for posting such articles.

  10. The horror of corruption!!!!!!!

    All 3 parties played somewhat dubious part in this deal.

    a) Navy – penny wise pound foolish, as someone pointed out why not buy second hand G7s from UK? Why the sham of sending out RFPs if the tender is tweaked in favour of Derby? How were smart folks ( and i am thinking about a smart arsed babu in MoD ) missed this? Or was someone on the take there as well?

    b) The vendor – whom did they bribe to get the goal post moved from A to B?

    C) HAL – Can they ever deliver on time? Anything big/small?

    Cecx Fable & Gas

  11. If the Navy had not fast -tracked the process, the LUSH would still have been in the multi-vendor retender process, thanks to St Antony and the babus of MoD and MoF.
    Secondly, I wonder why everybody on the forum seems to be jumping on the Navy's case, without mentioning the real sloth in the works – HAL. HAL had a monopoly on the upgrade, and the promised timelines were just not met (as is the case with every other promise). How about focusing on the core issues, Mr Aroor, that of the efficiency (or lack thereof) of our wonderful PSU / DRDO combine.

  12. These things don't just happen in India…..i am afraid all over the world its the same story. This is also not just unique to the arms industry either. What you don't want is a knee jerk reaction that makes doing business very difficult in the future. Which ultimately only hurts the forces. Its so easy to be judging this after the events and from a distance.

  13. Time to wake up: it's a well known fact that israelis product are not reliable at all, Israel Air Force keep the best in class in the country, allowing OEM only to sell outdated versions.

    Cutting edge tech is in Europe and the US (MBDA and Raytheon).

    Til we aren't able to be self reliant with our indigenous products, let stop putting all our eggs in the same russian/Israel basket to save couple of rps on quality and efficiency…

  14. Every defence deal is shady, which can be proved with sufficient effort and political will.
    Congress knows that and that's why they are not interested in buying Howitzers.

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