The intense media focus of the past few weeks on the alleged improprieties in the inter-governmental agreement for the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft meant that only 12 pages of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Report tabled in Parliament on 13 February 2019 have received exclusive attention.
In the process, other anomalies identified by the report with respect to the acquisition process of the 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) have received very limited coverage. These other anomalies relate to the unprofessional manner in which various important steps in defence acquisition are handled, causing delays between the ‘Acceptance of Necessity’ and the signing of the contract.
Further, precious time is lost when it becomes necessary to annul the entire exercise due to such irregularities and reboot the process once again, resulting in wide capability gaps which at times necessitate ‘out of the box’ solutions as quick fixes.
The Three-Stage Process of MMRCA Acquisition
The need to induct medium multi-role combat aircraft to fill the void that would be created by the phasing out of MiG-21 and MiG -23 aircraft and the delay envisaged in the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme was foreseen in the year 2000. Accordingly, the Parliament Standing Committee on Defence was apprised by the Indian Air Force (IAF), “that a formal proposal for acquisition of a few squadrons of Mirage-2000-5 in the 10th and 11th plan has been submitted to the Ministry of Defence.”
But the MMRCA acquisition process formally began only in August 2007 with the issue of a Request For Proposal as prescribed by the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), 2006. Thereafter, it went through a three-stage process: evaluation of technical offers, field trials, and commercial negotiation.
Click here for the full report (11 PDF pages) on the IDSA website.