NEW DELHI: In a major shift, the Defence Ministry has decided to purchase all 12 US-2 amphibious aircraft from Japan in flyaway condition under government-to-government deal, much like India is pursuing the Rafale fighter procurement.
This is for the first time after the World War-II that Japan will be exporting its equipment to a foreign military. The decision to shift the procurement process from ‘Buy and Make (Global)’ to ‘Buy Global’ was initiated this month, sources in the Defence Ministry told UNI.
“Procurement concept for 12 US-2 amphibian aircraft for the Indian Navy changed from ‘Make in India’ to a direct import,” said the sources, adding that the decision was guided by the realisation that Indian Industry was not in a position yet to absorb such huge project with its viability also under doubts.
The decision to acquire the aircraft was taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Tokyo in 2014. A joint working group had been discussing the deal to fine tune the contract.
“The sale of military hardware to foreign country by Japan is an example of close chemistry Prime Ministers of the countries share between them,” said the sources. UNI
Revised procurement process for the deal, which may run into Rs 11,000 crore, will give an added impetus the purchase, the sources said.
In order to encourage the domestic industry, the Ministry has added a component of 50 per cent offset, they said.
The deal is important for the Indian Navy as the aircraft has a range of 4,500 km. The aircraft is likely to be based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, giving a long handle to Indian Navy for surveillance of vast area in the Indian Ocean Region.
The deal may be extended to 18 aircraft, going by the requirements of the Indian Navy, said the sources. The contract for 12 aircraft would have a clause of a follow-on order of six more in future, they said.
The aircraft, which is capable of taking off and land at sea surface is currently operated by the 31st Fleet Air Wing (71st Air Force, 71st Flight Squadron) at Iwakuni air base and Atsugi air base.
The aircraft is world’s only amphibian capable of landing on rough seas with a wave height of 3 meters. The US-2 and its predecessor model US-1A are currently in operation by Japan’s Ministry of Defence as STOL Search and Rescue Amphibian.