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Indian Defence minister ask officials to be careful with documents after report leaks

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  1. Lankan Ranger

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    Indian Defence minister ask officials to be careful with documents after report leaks

    Viewing seriously the leakage of a report on trials of a US gun system that India plans to buy, defence minister AK Antony today sounded a note of caution to officials dealing with such matters amid assertion that no manipulation would be allowed in the procurement procedures.

    He noted that Army has ordered an inquiry into the alleged leakage of the secret report that contained assessment of the trial of ultra-light M-777 artillery guns which India proposes to procure from the US.

    "Already Army has ordered an inquiry at the highest level. We will find the truth," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of function here.

    Sounding a note of caution, Antony said due to increasing competition in defence deals, the armed forces need to be very careful during acquisition processes.

    At the same time, he added, "nobody would be able to manipulate our procurement procedures."

    Asked whether there was any timeline for completion of the probe, Antony said, "The report came only a few days back. The Army is doing inquiry... they are very serious and we will not allow any manipulation at any level."

    He said, "Whenever there is a leak or mistake, we are taking action against it. Proper action is always taken. Transparency will be maintained at every level. There is a pucca (fool-proof) system".

    The Army proposes to procure 145 M-777 Ultra-Light 155 mm Howitzers from the US under an inter-governmental agreement, which will mark the first deal of the artillery gunships that India has entered into in 25 years after the Bofors gun scandal broke out.

    The field trials of the American howitzer have been carried out at various places including Leh, Sikkim besides the desert and plain areas also. The trials are yet to be completed, sources said.

    American BAE Systems' M-777 and Singapore Technologies Kinetics' (STK) Pegasus were the two contenders for the deal to supply the 155mm/39 calibre guns to the Army for being deployed for mountain warfare.

    The government chose the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route to procure the M-777 howitzers from the US after STK was blacklisted for its alleged involvement in the Ordnance Factory Board scam in 2009.

    Due to the blacklisting, the Army had to cancel the tender for procuring 400 towed howitzers also and has reissued a new Request For Proposal (RFP) last month.

    The deal is critical for Army's Rs20,000 crore artillery modernisation plans to do away with the deficiency of modern howitzers in service.

    Defence minister ask officials to be careful with documents after report leaks - India - DNA