New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has expressed "distress" over the defence ministry's "inordinate delay" in inducting indigenous basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force and its failure to foresee the implications of this on the country's defence preparedness.
In its report on the training of IAF pilots tabled in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) deplored the "unconscionable delay on the part of ministry of defence in induction of necessary trainer aircraft in the IAF."
"The committee are distressed to note inordinate delay in induction of trainer aircraft - both imported as well as indigenously manufactured - and the inability of the defence ministry to foresee implication of such delay on our defence preparedness," the report said.
"Worse, the inordinate delay in indigenisation of trainer aircraft after approval of design and development in June 2011 led to cost escalation which cannot be condoned or overlooked considering the dire need for proper basic trainer aircraft in the IAF," the report added.
It said the ministry should show a sense of urgency and finalise the proposal for production of 106 indigenous basic trainer aircraft with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at the earliest.
The report said the committee was also perturbed to note that the action taken note furnished by the ministry was silent on the issue of finalisation of contract with HAL for intermediate jet trainer with clear timelines for its manufacturing.
It also said action taken note by the ministry had no mention of the proposal for purchasing 64 light utility helicopters (LUH) and had had shown no sense of urgency to finalise manufacturing of 61 more LUH by HAL.
"The committee are of view that the continuance of training of helicopter pilots in outdated helicopters would deprive them of state-of-art training and seriously jeopardise our air capability in competing with advanced nations and in surmounting emerging challenges to national security," it said.
"The ministry should finalise the proposal for induction of 125 LUH with a sense of urgency after obtaining necessary approval on top priority basis," the report said.