NEW DELHI: The induction of an early warning system called the Low level Transportable Radar (LLTR), which detects aerial threats operating at low altitudes, has been inordinately delayed since it was first envisaged in 1998, seriously compromising the country’s air defence surveillance capability.
In a scathing report, the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) said none of the LLTR had been commissioned so far despite spending Rs 454.48 crore.
While reviewing the requirement of surveillance radars in 1982, it was assessed by the Indian Air Force that a majority of future air strikes would come from low altitude to retain an element of surprise.
According to the CAG report, the Ministry of Defence concluded two contracts in July 2009 for procurement of 19 LLTRs at a total cost of Rs 1,272 crore. The ‘Buy’ part of the ‘Buy and Make’ contract was concluded with Thales, France (Original Equipment Manufacturer-OEM) for the procurement of six fully furnished LLTRS along with communication and associated equipment and breakdown kits for 13 radar systems along with transfer of technology at a total cost of Rs 572.20 crore with a delivery schedule of February 2012 to March 2013.
“Due to failure in the antenna drive system and the non-compliance of contractual and critical operational observations, the Factory Acceptance Test was finally cleared in May 2014 by the Indian Air Force with nine critical operational observations affecting detection and tracking capability of the radar which were to be complied by V-3 during Site Acceptance Test of the first radar,” the CAG noted.
The antenna drive system is a critical sub-system of LLTR and failure could seriously hamper its operational capability. Regarding delay in the induction of detection radar impacting air defence capabilities of the IAF, the ministry, in its reply, said they had procured 34 Rohini Radar systems, which detect low level aerial threats, as well as maintaining old radars for low-level coverage.