Training jets assembled in India for armed forces using inferior engines: CAG report

Training jets assembled in India for armed forces using inferior engines: CAG report

Courtesy : Nationalist Bureau04/11/2018 09:03

It also stated that “a large number of second-hand components and parts have been fitted in aircraft”

New Delhi: Pilots training to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy are flying jets fitted with inferior engines and “category b” or “second-hand components” that seriously affect the “quality of aircraft”, a recent report by the Comptroller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) states.

Faced with an ageing fleet of intermediate jet trainers, India bought 123 Hawk aircraft -- 106 for the IAF and 17 for the Navy from British company BAES in 2004.

Twenty-eight of these 123 aircraft were to be bought in flyaway condition and the rest were to be assembled by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with the engines being made by it based on technology transfer.

The total value of the deal was about $2 billion and the aircraft were ordered in three phases, starting March 2004.

According to the audit, which was conducted in 2016, the problem is with the aircraft assembled here.

In addition to using inferior engines, “a large number of second-hand components and parts have been fitted in the aircraft”, the Comptroller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) states.

It also claimed to have found that a middleman was involved in the deal although India specifically bans using agents. The audit stated that an estimated amount of  Rs 500 crore was paid as “illegal commission”.

 “In our findings, a linkage between commission paid and compromises made on the quality of engines, which has affected the quality of aircraft has been clearly brought out,” the audit report says.

The CBI was asked to investigate the allegations of payment of commission which first surfaced in the British media. The case is still under probe.

The IAF, HAL and the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), and part of the defence ministry, all seem to have turned a blind eye to the lapses, the report stated.

According to the audit, while India contracted for engines that could be used for 2,000 hours before overhaul and service, the engines which ultimately arrived had to be overhauled after flying for 1,000 hours.

“Subsequently, to cover up this issue the HAL, IAF and DGQA released a statement which shows that the life of Aero Engines is 1,400 hours and not 2,000 hours and that special inspection to be carried out to find whether it is capable of operations for another 600 hours,” it stated.

A HAL spokesperson for didn’t respond to queries. The Indian Air Force also did not respond.

A senior defence ministry official, however, said, “Assumptions that the engine is of inferior quality are incorrect. The HAL manufactured engines after transfer of technology from the 0riginal equipment manufacturer -- Rolls Royce.”

On the issue of alleged inferior engines and Time-Between Overhaul (TBO), a senior IAF officer said, “Engine servicing is supervised by the OEM every 500 hours till it reaches 2,000 hours. Based on the recommendations of the OEM, engines manufactured by the HAL are subject to additional inspections after they flown for 1,400 hours for three components.”

“As on date, all HAL engines are accepted with a TBO of 2,000 hours,” he said.

Every component, the IAF officer said, is subjected to a “rigorous test,” and use of “sub-standard equipment” does not arise.

Explaining the issue of “category b” or second-hand equipment allegedly being fitted in the jets as raised in the audit, another defence ministry official said, “Category B equipment is not second-hand equipment. It is a fly-worthy component that is removed from a serviceable fighter for utilisation in another aircraft with necessary certified residual life.”

With inputs from HindustanTimes.

 

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