The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Training first, radars later

New Delhi, Nov. 16: Artillery units of the Indian Army are likely to be given training on American weapon-locating radars even before the equipment is inducted, US officials said.

Earlier this year, India contracted for eight Raytheon-made AN/TPQ 37 weapon-locating radars, an order that had been touted by defence officials as the first of a series of inductions of American military equipment. The contract was made under the US’ foreign military sales scheme.

The sources said the seventh India-US security cooperation group meeting here this week dealt mainly with acquisitions, export licences to American companies and procurement of some equipment to be used by the army along the Line of Control.

“We are in discussions with the Indian ministry of defence right now. There are Indian concerns on US laws (regarding military exports),” the officials said. “But the discussion on weapon systems has been broadened.”

The officials said the US policy on companies wanting to export to India is non-interventionist. “As we see it, it is a private sector decision. We figure only when a company seeks an export licence for a product. India’s biggest concern in Washington is understanding the export licensing process. We are trying to be as helpful as we can be,” they said.

India is wary of importing US military equipment because it is suspicious of long-standing political and diplomatic support to such a programme. Also, many applications are pending with US authorities, clearance of which can lead to a faster induction of the equipment.

Concerns in the ministry of defence over delays in procurements have been mounting. Among the most glaring results of such delays is the tardy handling of the proposal for an advanced jet trainer for the IAF.

IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, voiced his concern yesterday. In a rare but controlled display of exasperation, he said at a seminar organised by the Aeronautical Society of India: “In military aviation, everything is time-sensitive. We have terms like time on target, time for take-off and time for landing. Then why do only decisions take so much time' Committees after committees are formed, 45 steps (for procurement) are taken and a decision is made. Then they say ‘do you believe this will happen'’...We are least sensitive when it comes to machines.”

A MiG-21 U trainer had crashed in Bagdogra this week.

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