Airbus Military hopeful of going through with BSF planes deal

Thursday, January 20, 2011

NEW DELHI - European consortium Airbus Military says it is keeping its fingers crossed about the fate of a $300 million deal to supply two military transport aircraft for the Border Security Force (BSF) amid indications that India might cancel the tender over a forgery scandal.

Airbus Military’s market development head Didier Vernet told a press conference here that though his company had read about the likely cancellation of the tenders, issued over a year ago, it was yet to officially hear about the fate of the contract from the government.

“We have heard something about that and have read the reports in papers here. But there has not been any communication in this regard from the government to us,” Vernet said in reply to questions about the tender.

Barbara Kracht, Airbus Military’s vice president (media relations), said they were not aware where the rumours about the contract cancellation had come from, as the C-295 aircraft they were offering had fully complied with the service qualitative requirements laid out in the tender.

“So all these seem to be speculations. What is being rumoured is not correct,” she added.

The alleged forgery had come to light earlier this month when it was noticed that the signature of an Indian Air Force (IAF) official had been forged on the official documents relating to the tender. IAF was the nodal evaluating agency for the tenders to buy two of these transport aircraft for BSF.

Home ministry sources had indicated recently that the government was likely to cancel the tender in view of the forgery controversy.

They said the forgery most likely took place at the IAF headquarters. The signatures of an IAF officer dealing with the BSF planes tender files were forged on papers relating to the trial of the aircraft and the evaluation reports.

The IAF had instituted a separate court of inquiry into the incident, including the role of the supplier company in the episode. The probe report is yet to be out.

The aircraft deal was in their final stages of being signed when the BSF headquarters discovered that the signatures of the IAF official were forged.

The aircraft is required by the BSF to replace its Antonov aircraft for rapid troop movement and evacuation operations.

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