New Delhi: As a part of larger reforms by the defence ministry, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is likely to get financial powers to hire aircraft, including mid-air refuellers, and related equipment for short term in order to address operational emergencies, according to top defence sources.
The move would cut down on tedious paperwork during crunch situations and will help the force obtain critical air assets from private players — and even foreign governments — in a short time frame and for a short duration in case of contingencies, the sources said.
The Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS), which is undergoing revisions and likely to be released shortly, may allow IAF with the financial powers to spend between Rs 100 crore and Rs 200 crore in each case. DFPDS is the document that governs all defence revenue procurements by identifying competent financial authorities and financial powers accorded to them.
The ongoing revision of DFPDS, which was last notified in 2016, is a major reform by the defence ministry in view of emerging security threats and the need for faster and easier procurements of critical machinery to keep the forces operation-ready.
According to the sources, in the revised DFPDS, IAF’s financial powers might increase by up to three times for indigenisation, research and development and may include design and development of critical equipment. This would be in line with the central government’s flagship Atmanirbhar Bharat project.
For IAF which has made at least two unsuccessful attempts since 2007 to procure mid-air refuelling aircraft and has been considering third procurement attempt, the move may help IAF to hire the refuelling aircraft instead of leasing, an expensive exercise under DAP 2020.
It may be noted that IAF currently operates a fleet of six Russian IIyushin-78 refuelling tankers and has been facing service issues with them. Having mid-air refuellers will act as a force multiplier and add strategic heft to IAF.