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Radars too few, submarines too old: CAG

New Delhi, Oct. 25: The navy’s silent arm is going bust and the IAF’s air defence coverage is little over a quarter of what it should be.

The sputtering submarines of the navy and the gaping holes in air surveillance mean the country’s military machine is severely deficient.

These are the revelations in the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) released this week.

In March this year, a similar audit by the CAG found that India had bought a warship from the US (INS Jalashva) after agreeing not to use it for offensive action without informing the Pentagon.

The findings of the CAG in its report (PA 5 of 2008) about the performance of the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force have castigated the government for going slow on acquisitions that are critical for defence and in times of war.

Without saying so explicitly, there is little doubt that the CAG suspects that the navy and the air force will be found seriously wanting in the event of an emergency.

Defence minister A.K. Antony admitted today that air surveillance was questionable because of the shortage of radars. He also admitted that there was a shortage of submarines for the navy.

In its report, the CAG said that despite improvements in security technologies, the government had not approved the air force’s revised procurement plans for 1983-2000 and 1987-2007.

The upshot is that the IAF’s Air Defence Ground Environment System — the heart of the country’s air defence system — has to be run with critically small numbers of medium-powered and low-level surveillance radars.

The CAG report looked into the performance of the equipment till 2007 and predicted that in 2008, the IAF would “be compelled to operate with only 26 per cent of the requirement”.

It said there was a 53 per cent shortage of medium-powered radars, and that the IAF was working with only 24 per cent of the required low-level transportable radars.

In the navy, the audit found that over half the submarines (a total of 16) had completed 75 per cent of their operational life. Two Foxtrot submarines were being run beyond their operational life but were not functioning most of the time.

In four years till 2012, 63 per cent of the fleet (10 submarines, probably) would have outlived their time. The first of the new-generation submarines, the French Scorpene, that India has contracted is expected to be inducted in 2012.

Despite the ageing submarine fleet, the navy is operating without a deep submergence rescue vehicle.

The CAG report has also found that the Russian-origin Klub missiles for the kilo-class submarines were not functioning in a fail-proof manner. New sonars bought for Rs 167 crore were not performing either.

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