Ac­qui­si­tion of the US-2: slow but steady progress

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Aviation Defence & Inindia -

The case for ac­qui­si­tion of am­phibi­ous air­craft for the In­dian Navy be­gan way back in 2011 when the Navy is­sued a Re­quest for In­for­ma­tion (RFI). Ja­pan’s ShinMaywa In­dus­tries Ltd, re­sponded to the RFI and paved the way for com­menc­ing a new chap­ter of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan in the de­fence sec­tor. The unique ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the US-2 am­phib­ian had clearly made it an in­ter­est­ing con­sid­er­a­tion for ac­qui­si­tion. As the IN pro­gressed the ac­qui­si­tion case of am­phibi­ous air­craft on op­er­a­tional merit, pos­si­bil­ity of pro­cure­ment of US-2 by In­dia was dis­cussed dur­ing an An­nual Sum­mit Meet­ing be­tween Prime Min­is­ters Man­mo­han Singh and Shinzo Abe, held in May 2013 at Tokyo. Di­rec­tives were is­sued in the Joint State­ment be­tween the two Prime Min­is­ters to­wards for­ma­tion of a Joint Work­ing Group (JWG) to ex­plore modal­i­ties for co-op­er­a­tion on the US-2 pro­cure­ment. The Joint Work­ing Group com­pleted its de­lib­er­a­tions in 2013 and pro­vided its in­puts to the MoD to­wards pos­si­ble mer­its of such ac­qui­si­tion. The Navy was in­de­pen­dently pro­gress­ing their case for re­quire­ment of am­phibi­ous air­craft within the es­tab­lished reg­u­la­tions of the De­fence Pro­cure­ment Pro­ce­dure as per the Ser­vice’s long term op­er­a­tional re­quire­ment.

Over the last few years, an ac­qui­si­tion case for the US-2 has seen its own (typ­i­cal) is­sues. Progress has been ser­pen­tine at the best. Amidst con­stant me­dia spec­u­la­tions, both gov­ern­ments have been cau­tious in pro­gress­ing their dis­cus­sion in the case. In case the ac­qui­si­tion case does fruc­tify, it would be the first mil­i­tary pro­cure­ment co-op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan. For Ja­pan, this would be first sale of its mil­i­tary hard­ware to any de­vel­op­ing coun­try. How­ever, since the pro­cure­ment is unique in na­ture and the process of ac­qui­si­tion through the G-to-G route it­self is be­ing at­tempted for the first time be­tween In­dia and Ja­pan, the pace has been un­der­stand­ably slow and de­lib­er­ate. In ad­di­tion, since the In­dian Navy is set to ac­quire such ca­pa­bil­ity af­ter a long time, the ac­qui­si­tion case is be­ing sub­jected to de­tailed de­lib­er­a­tions at ev­ery stage. The multi-role ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the air­craft are unique and pre­sum­ably meet all the op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments of an am­phibi­ous air­craft as en­vis­aged by the In­dian Navy.

How­ever, this air­craft comes with a big price tag. It is un­der­stood that cost re­lated is­sues have been a mat­ter of con­cern for the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia at ev­ery stage. It is how­ever also un­der­stood that the Gov­ern­ment of Ja­pan has been as­sur­ing In­dia of a ‘fair con­sid­er­a­tion’ on all is­sues re­lated to the project in­clud­ing pric­ing, and the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment has been reg­u­larly deput­ing top-level func­tionar­ies to In­dia for dis­cus­sions with their re­spec­tive coun­ter­parts at var­i­ous lev­els. Visit of Mr Tetsuro Kuroe, Ad­min­is­tra­tive ViceMin­is­ter of De­fence to In­dia on 2- 3 Novem­ber 2016 to meet and dis­cuss is­sues re­lated to the US- 2 project with Mr Manohar Par­rikar and the De­fence Sec­re­tary, which was prior to the re­cently con­cluded Sum­mit Meet­ing in­di­cates the Ja­panese in­tent. The ac­qui­si­tion case has found reg­u­lar men­tion in ‘2+2’ di­a­logues be­tween the two De­fence and For­eign Sec­re­taries and in Joint State­ments re­leased dur­ing an­nual Sum­mit Meet­ings be­tween the two Prime Min­is­ters. It is un­der­stood

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