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Parrikar to arrive in Goa today

PANAJI: Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will arrive in Goa on November 12, on his first visit to the state after he assumed the office as the Cabinet Minister.

Parrikar will address the Bharatiya Janata Party supporters from South Goa, at Dabolim, as well as supporters of the party, in the city, Wednesday evening.

The state BJP unit has arranged a grand reception for the Union Defence Minister, including a grand procession from Dabolim to Panaji.

PTI ADDS FROM NEW DELHI: The Union Defence Minister was Tuesday given a detailed briefing by the top echelons of the ministry as well as the three service chiefs on various matters including acquisition proposals and processes and issues at the boundary.

Defence secretary R K Mathur gave the first detailed briefing to the new minister, who took charge on Monday, that lasted for nearly two hours. During this, Parrikar was briefed of the structures and functions of various departments under the ministry.

The minister, who arrived at 8:30 am, was also given a briefing on the acquisition process, ministry sources said, adding that specific projects were not discussed in detail.

Parrikar had Monday stressed that the acquisition process under him would be transparent but fast. The defence acquisition process in the past ten years had slowed down and defence deals were often seen to be mired in corruption.

The briefing by the Defence secretary was followed by that of the Army which took place inside the Military Operation room in the South Block.

During this briefing, where Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag was also present, the new minister was given an overall view of the force’s operation, requirements and issues at the boundary, the sources said.

After this, Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan briefed Parrikar in the Naval Operation room. He later visited the Air Headquarters here to get a briefing by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.

The sources said Parrikar, who is likely to leave for Goa Wednesday afternoon, would also be visiting some field areas in the coming days.

A metallurgy graduate from IIT, Bombay, Parrikar has a long road ahead as the forces will look up to him to fix the country’s outdated weapons system and go in for faster acquisition. He will have to walk a tight rope in the wake of allegations of corruption in defence contracts in the country.

Jaitley has already set in motion the process of acquiring Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) besides the Israeli anti-tank missile Spike. He has scrapped the controversial tender for 197 Light Utility Helicopters and opened projects for Indian industry – including the making of six submarines and replacement of Avro transport aircraft.

Among the first major issues Parrikar would have to decide is the multi-billion 126 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft. Final negotiations have been on for the last three years after the then government selected French Dassault Rafale. The contract is critical for the depleted fighter fleet of IAF, which needs at least 39 squadrons of fighter planes but has only 32.

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