National auditor CAG has said a 30 per cent failure rate was found in the surface-to-air missiles Akash during testing and held that such deficiencies posed an operational risk during hostilities.
In a report tabled in the Lok Sabha today, the Comptroller and Auditor General said the strategic missile system procured from the state-run Bharat Electronics Ltd were deficient in quality. The missiles were to be deployed on the China border.
The report said missile systems were to be installed at the six designated sites between 2013 and 2015. But till date, none of the missile systems procured at a cost of Rs 3,619 crore has been installed due to delay in execution of civil works at the sites concerned.
The CAG did not mention name of the strategic missile but sources said the auditor was referring to the Akash missiles.
“Out of 80 missiles received up to November 2014, 20 missiles were test fired during April-November 2014. Six of these missiles that is 30 per cent, failed the test,” the CAG said in the report.
The auditor said as the failure rate of the sample tested was as high as 30 per cent, action needs to be taken to establish the reliability of factory acceptance test of the remaining missiles.
Preliminary failure analysis report, the CAG said, revealed that the missiles fell short of the target and had lower than the required velocity. There was also malfunctioning of critical units.
“Two missiles had failed to take off because the booster nozzle had failed. These deficiencies posed an operational risk during hostilities,” the CAG said.
In view of the threat perception, the government had approved the induction of the strategic missile in the Northeast sector to provide the necessary deterrence and counter possible threat from China.
The CAG said failure analysis of the first three failed missiles was completed in August 2014 while that of another three missiles was completed in May 2016.
“IAF replied that action for replacement of the failed missiles was being undertaken. IAF also stated that BEL had replaced the three failed missiles in January 2016 and the remaining three missiles were yet to be replaced.
“Audit is of the view that it is not just a matter of replacing the missiles that failed in the test. As the failure rate of the sample tested was as high as 30 per cent, action needs to be taken to establish the reliability of the balance Z missiles,” the CAG said.
The CAG was also not ready to accept Indian Air Forces argument that the delay in commissioning of missile system was not attributable to non-availability of infrastructure, but the delay by BEL in supply of maintenance spares and completion of acceptance checks of missiles.
The auditor said the defence ministry may review the quality of the factory acceptance test (FAT) of the missiles so as to enhance reliability of FAT.
“The quality of strategic missiles also needs improvement so as to bring down failure rate. The Ministry needs to ensure better synchronisation of the various activities and agencies involved in such strategically important projects to ensure their timely completion,” it said.
The CAG also slammed IAF over procurement of autopilots.
“Against requirement of 108 autopilots projected by IAF in 1997 for 108 Jaguar aircraft, only 35 autopilots were procured between 2006 and 2008 through a contract concluded in August 1999,” it said.
The CAG said repeat contract for 95 autopilots could be concluded only by March 2014 and that out of 35 autopilots procured earlier, only 18 autopilots could be integrated on the Jaguar aircraft as of March 2017.
“The integrated autopilots were also functioning sub optimally due to malfunctioning of their vital component,” the CAG observed.
It said 30 autopilots received through the repeat contract are yet to be integrated and thus, the flying aid capability envisaged by IAF for the Jaguar Aircraft in 1997 remains largely unrealised even after 20 years.
The auditor also slammed IAF for delay in servicing and repair of IL fleet of aircraft.
“This was in turn largely attributable to poor availability of spares and delay by IAF in signing maintenance support contract with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM),” it observed.
The CAG also criticised IAF for “irregular” availing of LTC by officers during their private visits to foreign countries.
“Officers in IAF were taking approvals from competent authority to proceed abroad on leave on personal grounds. However, though they visited foreign destinations during the sanctioned leave, they were allowed claim for Leave Travel Concession (LTC) for cities in India, which they did not visit,” the CAG said.
It said permissions of LTC for journeys to foreign destination and payments of Rs 82.58 lakh by the respective authorities were irregular and in gross violation of provision of LTC contained in defence travel regulations.
This came just days after the Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand, said that Pakistan had a better military industrial base and exports more defence equipment than India, as he came down heavily on ordnance factories which manufacture weapons for the forces.