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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 18 Mar 2015

No final decision yet on Dassault aircraft deal: Govt
New Delhi, March 17
Negotiation is taking place for procurement of medium multi-role combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation France but “no final decision” has been taken, the government informed the Rajya Sabha today.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also said review of existing fleet and induction of new aircraft is a continuous process and such a review is carried out keeping in view the operational requirements of the Air Force.

On whether fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) are in place for the Indian Air Force to have superior air strike capabilities, he replied in a negative.

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had last month held talks here with Parrikar to salvage the multi-billion Rafale contract even as a deadlock continues to hold up the deal.

As the two ministers met, the Cost Negotiating Committee (CNC) is understood to have submitted its report to the Ministry of Defence.

Le Drian met with Parrikar during which the French Minister took up the issue of the Rafale fighters manufactured by Dassault Aviation.

India had selected Rafale for the deal in 2012 but the final contract is yet to be signed. While 18 jets are to be bought off the shelf, 108 are supposed to be manufactured here by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The main issue concerns the pricing, which is basically the production cost in India, and Dassault’s reluctance to stand guarantee for the 108 fighters to be built by state-run HAL.

Parrikar made it clear that the French defence major will have to stick to the RFP document as the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal hangs in balance.

“The pricing will be decided on the basis of the Request for Proposal (RFP),” he said.     Asked about the guarantee clause, he said the issue was between the French firm and the HAL.

Speaking to reporters in the Parliament premises, the minister said he wants the matter to be “expedited”.

The French Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon were the only ones left standing after years of tests on technical and other aspects vis-a-vis the move to acquire Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft.

Rafale was shortlisted in 2012 but since then the final contract negotiations have been stuck on pricing and guarantee clause among others. India insists that Dassault will have to stand guarantee for the aircraft to be  manufactured by HAL. Another issue is the high life-cycle cost with India indicating that the prices have more than doubled than what was agreed in the RFP. — PTI
SC: Pension can’t be less than 50% of pay

R Sedhuraman

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 17
In a bonanza to retired employees of the armed forces, the Supreme Court today directed the Centre to pay at least 50 per cent of the pay as pension to all of them as recommended by the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC).

A Bench headed by Justice TS Thakur passed the order while dismissing about 50 appeals filed by the Centre challenging the rulings of various high courts and armed forces tribunals (AFTs). The HCs and AFTs had struck down the office memorandums (OMs) assessing the pension amount at less than 50 per cent for some categories of pensioners.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand had pleaded that payment of pension at 50 per cent or more would place an additional burden of Rs 1,500 crore. But the Bench said the pensioners were entitled to the CPC recommendations which had been accepted by the government.

They could not be denied of their dues just because some officials, who did not even have the authority to issue the OMs, had misinterpreted the recommendations, the Bench explained.

“We have already affirmed the orders of the HCs and AFTs” in a couple of cases earlier and there was no need for the Centre to come to the SC in each and every such case, the Bench said.

Today’s order should be implemented within four months extending the benefit to all those who were entitled to pension, irrespective of the fact whether they had gone to the AFT/court or not, the Bench clarified.

In one such case, the Delhi High Court had delivered its verdict on April 29, 2013, directing the Centre to ensure that pension was re-fixed at not lower than 50 per cent of the minimum of the pay in the band and the grade pay thereon. Arrears should be paid within two months and any delay would entail 9 per cent interest, it had ruled while dismissing a batch of Centre’s petitions. The HC had said it was in complete agreement with the reasoning of the Punjab and Haryana HC in similar cases.

Manufacturing of Helicopters in the Country

March 17, 2015 Last Updated at 00:20 IST

At present, there is no such proposal to prepare a separate policy on Make-in-India to invite private companies in defence sector. The defence production sector was opened in 2001 for 100% private sector participation. Further in pursuance of the Defence Production Policy 2011, the Government has taken the following major steps to promote the participation of private sector in production of defence equipments:

(i) Technology Perspective and Capability roadmap (TPCR), which gives out the equipment and technologies required by our Armed Forces, has been put in public domain to provide the industry an overview of the direction in which the Armed Forces intend to head in terms of capability over the next 15 years.

(ii) Preference to Buy (Indian), Buy & Make (Indian) & Make categories over Buy (Global) or Buy & Make categories of Capital Acquisition cases.

(iii) The procedure for Buy and Make (Indian) category, has been simplified in order to make the category more attractive for Indian Defence industry.

(iv) A clear definition of indigenous content has been provided which would not only bring more clarity on the indigenous content required for different categorization, but also enhance the indigenization of defence products in India.

(v) Indian private sector industry has also been allowed to receive Maintenance Transfer of Technology (MToT) in Buy (Global) cases.

(vi) FDI Policy in Defence sector has been reviewed and as per the new policy, composite foreign investment up to 49% has been allowed through FIPB route and beyond 49% with the approval of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

(vii) Defence Products List for the purpose of industrial licensing has been revised and in the revised list most of the components / parts / raw materials have been taken out from the purview of the industrial licensing.

(viii) Defence Exports Strategy has been formulated and put in public domain. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for issuing NOC for export of military stores has been simplified and made online.

Defence Acquisition Council has taken a decision to procure 384 Light Helicopters for Indian Air Force (IAF) & Indian Army and 56 Naval Utility Helicopters through Buy & Make (Indian) route. Acquisition covered under the Buy & Make (Indian) route would mean purchase from an Indian vendor (including Indian company forming the joint venture / establishing production arrangement with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), followed by licensed production / indigenous manufacture in the country.

Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) has decided to augment its helicopters manufacturing capacity of Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) from 24 to 36 helicopters per annum. This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh in a written reply to Shri Ravi Prakash Verma in Rajya Sabha today.
Defence sector opening up to startup technology

PUNE: Conservative and security sensitive outfits like the Indian Defence are opening up to explore startup technology today.

While startup Threye has partnered with the Indian Air Force (IAF) to build mobile games to make youth excited about the IAF, startup Inforich is helping the Indian Navy with technical documentation. Similarly, Mobiliya is collaborating with the Indian Army to provide them with tamper-proof secure mobile phones

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