Who Really Owns Akash Missile System?

A shocking 2017 report by the national auditor CAG observed that several agencies lied about the malfunctioning missiles and poor quality of spare parts provided by the private vendors to the government and said that the Akash Missile System cannot be trusted in situation of a war. It further observed that degraded by govt defence agencies and loopholes in strategic weapon system threaten India’s National Security. Now, a shocking new investigation has revealed that even the ownership of what is supposed to be a government owned missile system is also sketchy, to the utter disbelief of the Generals.

Akash Missile System
Who really  owns the Akash Missile System?

Akash is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile defense system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

A shocking Firstpost investigation by Yatish Yadav has revealed gross inefficiency of government defence agencies Bharat Electronics (BEL), BDL and Defense Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) to address the problem in Akash Missile System. Documents reveal that meetings after meetings were convened on the issues but the government defence enterprises couldn’t satisfactorily answer the questions raised by Air Force. These government defence enterprises have been passing the buck. They also cheated Air Force by providing substandard and fake spares.

A meeting earlier this year chaired by Air Vice Marshal Bhanoji Rao pointed at severe negligence in handling Akash Missile System which may have serious ramifications in contingency. Documents revealed that certain spares, especially those of sub-vendors (procured by BEL) were being received at Akash Missile System units without ‘Quality Assurance’ certification and on a few instances it came to light that these spares were old and fake. In a letter, it was noted: “On few instances it has been noticed that the items were not new/authentic.”

Air Vice Marshal Rao clearly told his team at the Air Force not to accept spares without ‘Quality Assurance’ certification. The meeting also revealed a lack of expertise of government-owned defence enterprises which are acting merely as a supplier of equipment after procuring it from domestic and foreign vendors. It basically means that these government enterprises are acting like a payment facilitators. Their complicity in this entire saga was further exposed when government defence enterprises officials told the senior Air Force officials that sub-vendors (private companies supplying spares) were not willing to share their design documents.

An appalled Air Vice Marshal asked, if the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) is the authority then it must have intellectual property rights of all designs related to Akash Missile System. The defence agencies representatives were shockingly not aware about it since they never took the pain to look into the agreements and promised the Air Force to look into the matter to ascertain whether these rights were with vendors. A promise was made to list all major vendors for unhindered supply of spares to overcome single vendor situation. As far as BEL is concerned documents said: “Almost all squadrons have expressed that they are unable to get proper feedbacks from BEL on progress and plan of action of pending faults.”

The meeting chaired by Air Vice Marshal Rao also discussed high failure rate of one of the systems of Akash Missile, lacunae in analysis of faults and mismatch in software versions used for the this strategic weapon.

Another major loophole, which highlights the non-seriousness of defence agencies, is the contract with the private vendors. The agreements are more favorable to private parties putting Akash Missile System in jeopardy. Documents flagged these concerns further pointing out that all the vendor supplied items are outside their warranty obligations and in certain cases supplied spares are not configured as per system requirements. Some spares for Akash Missiles are not fit and functional and this is affecting the equipment serviceability in case of failure.

It appears that careless handling of most critical weapons has been going on for a long time. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) was perhaps far-sighted when in a 2017 report, the national auditor observed that Akash Missiles cannot be trusted in situation of a war. CAG had categorically stated that Akash missile system delivered by BEL were deficient in quality and 30% missiles failed the test.

“Audit found that the Strategic missile system delivered by BEL were deficient in quality. Out of 80 missiles received up to November 2014, 20 missiles were test fired during April-November 2014. Six of these missiles i.e., 30 percent, failed the test. Preliminary failure analysis report revealed that the missiles fell short of the target, had lower than the required velocity, and also there was malfunctioning of critical units like Servo Control Unit and Connector. Two missiles had failed to take off because the booster nozzle had failed. These deficiencies posed an operational risk during hostilities.

Are you aware that one of the key dimensions of the Strategic Defense Initiative of US Army is the reduction and degradation of Indian Army from a formidable and feared fighting force, capable of protecting the country from any threat, into a degenerate, fourth-grade and politicized institution?

This widespread institutional failure as has been described above has stemmed from the institutional leaders not understanding what their duty is, and being unable to involve with their Government for help to alter the situation, often not even knowing what question to ask. Read more about this critical national security issue and get to know the geopolitical threats India is facing in our exclusive book India in Cognitive Dissonance.

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