The CAG Report No 20 of 2011-12 (Air Force and Navy), tabled in Parliament recently, has come down heavily on Bangalore-based plane-making firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The report is critical of HAL’s inability to deliver the much-needed communication sets with ECCM capabilities for IAF – which resulted in loss of time, money and non-availability of technology. "The Ministry/IAF accepted communication equipment, designed and developed by HAL, even though the equipment did not meet technical requirements. As on date, IAF’s critical requirement of jam-resistant and secure radio sets has not been met even after spending Rs 116 crore and considerable period of time," says the highly critical report.
HAL was to offer airborne sets to IAF for flight trials by June 1994 and ground-based sets for trial by March 1995. The INCOM airborne sets were planned for equipping different types of aircraft in IAF with the aim of indigenization, uniformity and inter changeability of sets.
Audit observed that the performance and reliability of the newly delivered sets was also far below the requirements of IAF. Contracted specifications in the area of frequency range, speech secrecy and anti jamming etc, considered vital for flight safety of combat fleet, have not been met. This has led to aborted missions, potentially unsafe situations in the air and low aircraft availability. The ECCM modes have not been proven to be satisfactory on any aircraft.
HAL failed to rectify these defects and instead stated, in May 2008, that they had reached the limit of their technological capability to develop the sets any further. HAL, therefore, sought a permanent waiver to the deviations from the Joint Staff Qualitative Requirements (JSQRs). HAL also indicated that existing deviations of INCOM sets were due to system-architectural limitations and could not be corrected without total redesign. This would be equivalent to a de novo development cycle. The development project was closed in 2008.
The IAF stated (February 2009) that the below-par performance of the INCOM had been adversely affecting operations on aircraft fleets where the INCOM is installed. As the INCOM sets have not been able to meet the entire replacement requirement for the existing radio sets, in the mean-time, IAF continues to use the obsolescent radio sets which have outlived their life. Air HQ accepted, in February 2010, that operations are adversely affected due to continued use of the existing sets as they are unreliable and can no longer be maintained due to non-availability of spares. (Input courtesy: CAG Report)
[Next Part-IV: Exodus of youngsters from HAL]