The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on “Design Development, Manufacture and Induction of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA),” tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday, said there were huge delays in the development and induction of the Tejas fighter jet.
A parliamentary panel headed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has expressed “serious concern” over Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s “failure” to provide the required number of Tejas aircraft to the Air Force, adversely affecting its combat potential and posing a security threat.
This resulted in two LCA squadrons not materialising and the IAF having to uprgrade several aircraft, including the MiG-BIS, MiG-29, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar aircraft at a cost of Rs 20,037 crore, the report said. Tejas is an indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA).
The phasing out of MiG-21 had to be revised and the IAF is operating with 35 squadrons as against 42 squadrons sanctioned. The MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons would be retired over the next 10 years, the committee observed.
“The committee is disappointed to note that the failure of HAL/ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide the required number of aircraft has adversely affected the combat potential of the IAF resulting in security threat to the country,” the panel said.
The report comes at a time the Congress has been sharpening its attack against the government for French company Dassault Aviation overlooking HAL while choosing an offset partner for making the Rafale fighter jet.
“The committee notes with serious concern that due lack of R&D in the aviation sector, the country has to shell out of thousands of crores of rupees for procurement of both combat as well as civil aircraft from foreign countries. It is needless to mention that in times of war, it would be difficult for the nation to procure combat aircraft from unfriendly countries,” the report said.
The HAL, ADA and its work stations are miserably failing in its R&D to have much needed technology in the aviation sector, it added.
As of July 2018, the IAF has only got nine out of its requirement of 200 fighter and 20 trainer aircraft, the panel added.
“The ADA/HAL have also not been able to provide IAF with even a single production standard trainer aircraft till date. Further, since HAL could not augment its capacity in line with the demand of the IAD, the IAF will have to depend on imported aircraft for a longer time, given its dwindling squadron strength,” the panel said.