Armed Forces may get to lease platforms soon

NEW DELHI: The armed forces will soon be allowed to take a variety of equipment on lease, cutting down acquisition time as well as costs as the defence ministry is revising its procurement rules to bring in some much-needed changes.

The draft Defence Procurement Policy, released by defence minister Rajnath Singh, has special incentives for Indian designed and developed products, promotes the use of offsets for exports and has introduced a new category that will encourage foreign vendors to set up manufacturing facilities in India.

A significant change has been the provision to lease equipment like transport aircraft, trainers and simulators that do not have a direct combat role. “Leasing has been introduced as a new category for acquisition to substitute huge initial capital outlays with periodical rental payments,” the defence ministry has said. Given the inadequate budgetary allocations, the option will come in handy for the forces to obtain equipment at short notice. Options for leasing trainer aircraft and transport helicopters have been made in the past to the ministry but were not taken up in the absence of a policy.

The ministry has also incorporated lessons from the past by formulating new’trial wings’ under different services of the armed forces that will specialise in conducting field evaluations. These wings will have personnel that will be given training to ensure a fair competitive process. In the past, trial teams have been manned by officers drawn from different roles, often resulting in the results being under par.

“Field Evaluation Trials to be conducted by specialised trial wings and the objective of trials will be to nurture competition rather than elimination for minor deficiencies,” the ministry has said.

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