Obama com­ing, Indo-US copter deals im­mi­nent?

SP's MAI - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

ol­low­ing a fresh re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) in July last year, the MoD has cleared the In­dian Army’s pro­posal to ten­der for 814 truck-mounted self-pro­pelled 155mm gun sys­tems at a cost of ap­prox­i­mately 15,000 crore. The pro­cure­ment, of­fi­cially ti­tled Mounted Gun Sys­tem (MGS) and part of the Field Ar­tillery Ra­tion­al­i­sa­tion Plan (FARP), is to be from an In­dian ven­dor with tech­nol­ogy that may be ei­ther in­dige­nous or li­censed from a for­eign third party. Com­peti­tors for the pro­gramme in­clude the Tata SED 155mm mounted gun sys­tem, which in­volves a gun mounted on a eight-wheeled Tata truck and the L&T-led con­sor­tium that in­volves a Nex­ter CEASAR gun mounted on an Ashok Ley­land 6x6 Su­per Stal­lion truck chas­sis. Ven­dors re­sponded last year to a 29-ques­tion RFI that was sent out to sev­eral firms, in­clud­ing Tata, L&T, Bharat Forge and Mahin­dra De­fence among oth­ers. The cleared deal paves the way for an im­por­tant part of the FARP, given that none of the

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s con­sent to be chief guest at In­dia’s Repub­lic Day 2015 cel­e­bra­tions has sparked word that some pend­ing Indo-US de­fence deals could be cleared be­fore his ar­rival in New Delhi. An in­di­ca­tion that key de­ci­sions could be afoot in the com­ing days was vis­i­ble in the White House state­ment on Pres­i­dent Obama’s forth­com­ing visit to In­dia, where it said, “The Pres­i­dent will meet with the Prime Min­is­ter and In­dian of­fi­cials to strengthen and ex­pand the US-In­dia strate­gic part­ner­ship.” Fi­nalised deals cur­rently pend­ing in­clude con­tracts for 22 Boe­ing AH-64D Apache Block III at­tack he­li­copters and 15 Boe­ing CH-47F Chi­nook heavy-lift he­li­copters. Other deals on the ta­ble in­clude con­tracts for ad­di­tional Boe­ing C-17 Globe­mas­ter III air­craft as a follow-on to the 10 al­ready un­der de­liv­ery, and the pro­posed ac­qui­si­tion of 145 BAE Sys­tems M777 ul­tra-light how­itzers, an ef­fort that re­port­edly is ac­tive once again. While deals are usu­ally never signed dur­ing high-level vis­its, both sides will be look­ing to con­clude them be­fore Pres­i­dent Obama’s visit as a sweet­ener once he lands in Delhi to take dis­cus­sions on strate­gic part­ner­ship for­ward. The IAF has in­di­cated that it has waited long on th­ese two ac­qui­si­tions and re­quires an early con­tract sig­na­ture in or­der to re­ceive the air­craft on time.

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