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Doppler effect: Miss a zero, miss motion of waves

“In the absence of DWR, IAF was resorting to estimation of the approaching weather by manual visual observation,” the CAG recorded, ironically just a page before the audit analysis of the Rafale deal begins.

, ET Bureau|
Feb 15, 2019, 08.35 AM IST
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Selex Sistemi Integrati underwent a change of name to Selex GmbH due to some mergers within its group.
New Delhi: The most telling revelation on the sorry state of defence procurement is in the pages before the audit analysis of the €7.87-billion Rafale deal in the CAG report — a 13-year process to purchase 11 commercially available state-of-the-art weather radars for the Indian Air Force.

Eclipsed by all the attention to the Rafale deal, the CAG has revealed that the Indian Meteorological Department purchased the same Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) in flat 11 months in 2010. Only three of the 11 were available to the IAF by 2017.

“In the absence of DWR, IAF was resorting to estimation of the approaching weather by manual visual observation,” the CAG recorded, ironically just a page before the audit analysis of the Rafale deal begins.

The Defence Acquisition Council first cleared the project to procure 11 DWRs for Rs 143 core on September 14, 2004. But the IAF had not factored in the recurring expenditure for manning these radars, so the cost was revised to Rs 165 crore a few months later. That was eventually approved a year later in September 2005.

CAG


The next hurdle came in the qualitative requirements set by the IAF as only two companies — Selex Sistemi, Germany, and Enterprise Electronics Corporation of the US — submitted bids and neither could fulfil two key requirements.

First, radar should have a range of 100 metre or less and second, the radar should be of military standards.

Both vendors said there was no DWR then that could have a range below 300 metres and that this was a standard commercial equipment with no military variant.

The technical evaluation committee not only found these claims to be correct, but to their horror discovered that a ‘zero’ had “erroneously” got left out somewhere in the process. And so, what should have read as ‘1000 metre or less’ went as ‘100 metre or less’ as minimum range requirement.

This took three years to fix.

Eventually, a fresh tender was issued in September 2009 with the hope that more companies will participate. The response was similar and the same two companies were shortlisted.

More delays followed but finally by November 2011, a contract negotiation committee (CNC) was formed.

By then, the IMD, which had floated its tender sometime in 2009, had completed its purchase of two DWRs in July 2010 at Rs 8.96 crore each.

The CNC used this as its benchmark price, which translated to about Rs 109 crore for 11 DWRs. Sistemi Integrati, the lowest bidder had quoted lesser at Rs 106.79 crore. So, no negotiation was required, yet the CAG found that the CNC took seven months while the IMD had taken only one month.

But the most bizarre delay took place after the contract was signed, adversely impacting the delivery schedule.

Selex Sistemi Integrati underwent a change of name to Selex GmbH due to some mergers within its group.

As vendor, it informed the defence ministry in December 2014 of the change, an aspect which was covered in the preamble of the contract: “The seller shall be deemed to include its successors and assignees.”

The defence ministry, as per the CAG, spent over two years in clarifying the issue. This was scrutinised by ministry’s legal advisor, the Indian embassy in Germany and the IAF headquarters. But the goahead came only in April 2016 when the attorney general opined the change was in conformity with the preamble of the contract. The delivery could start only after that, resulting in more complications on extension of delivery schedules and indigenous manufacturing, which are only “partially resolved”.
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