IAF’s surveillance radars ‘inadequate, obsolete’: MPs’ panel


New Delhi : In a damning indictment, a parliamentary panel said Thursday the surveillance radars of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were not only inadequate but were also obsolete and prone to frequent breakdowns.

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Noting that air defence is “critical to the nation’s security”, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in its report tabled in parliament Thursday, said: “The IAF possesses less than the adequate number of surveillance radars needed for providing efficient and reliable detection.”

The committee was also “surprised” that none of the Air Defence Ground Environment System (ADGES) plans prepared after 1971 had been approved by the government “although some components have been sanctioned a piece-mean basis”.

Thus, a “serious mismatch exists between availability and the IAF’s requirements of radars and although the defence ministry has formulated a long-term perspective plan till 2022, which includes the ADGES plans, it is not clear whether the plan is as yet operational or not”, the PAC report said.

The committee was also critical of the fact that several contracts had been signed for procuring radars but no delivery timelines had been specified.

“The committee is constrained to point out that even though contracts have been signed, defence ministry and IAF officials could not provide scheduled dates of delivery for the radars and also by when these would be eventually commissioned” and to what extent they would “fill the existing gap in the air defence system” and “how the present threat perception will be addressed”.

“To be specific, the committee would like to emphasise that commissioning and installation of medium power radars and low-level transportable radars and completion of associated civil and development projects be expedited so that gaps in provision of AD (air defence) assets can be avoided,” the report said.

The committee also noted that the IAF’s air defence radars “are facing obsolescence and need urgent upgradation and modernisation”.

The ministry’s argument that the Defence Procurement Procedure was being followed and the time taken in processing acquisition cases has been reduced “does not satisfy the committee, given the hostile environment in which we live”, the PAC said.

“The fact remains that the need for defence preparedness and capability was never so acute as it is today. It is, therefore, essential that the purchases are timed and so sequenced that the armed forces are never short of their requirements,” the committee said.

Frowning on the frequent breakdowns of existing radars and the non-availability of spares, the PAC also noted that the “hours of watch allocated to the units of all types of radars are much below the hours prescribed for these units.”

“The fact that additional radars are being procured itself indicates that the present position regarding planned hours versus what is actually being achieved is not adequate for proper air defence of the country,” it said.

“It may be ensured that watch hours as prescribed by the government are adhered to once new acquisitions materialise and the IAF does not operate with any shortfalls as on date, thereby eliminating any compromise with security considerations,” the PAC said.