CAG report on chopper deal raises questions on trials abroad

New Delhi: The CAG has submitted its report on AgustaWestland chopper deal in which the government auditor is understood to have raised questions over various aspects of the deal, including conduct of trials outside the country despite the Defence Ministry rejecting such a proposal twice.
The report on the Rs 3,600 crore deal for 12 VVIP choppers was finalised during the tenure of former CAG Vinod Rai and was submitted on April 25, over a month before incumbent Shashi Kant Sharma took over, sources told PTI.
In its report, the CAG is understood to have raised questions over holding trials of the two helicopter vendors — American Sikorsky and Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland — outside the country, the sources said.
The auditor is believed to have noted that the trials should have been held in India since the helicopters to be procured were to be operated within the country.
In this context, the Comptroller and Auditor General has referred to the rejection of the proposal for conducting trials outside the country twice earlier by Defence Ministry.
The Defence Procurement Board (DPB), headed by the then Defence Secretary, had returned the IAF file recommending the trials to be held in foreign countries.
However, the IAF continued to insist on holding the trials outside the country, prompting the DPB to clear the proposal.
After that, Defence Minister A K Antony also raised objections over the trials being held outside the country but gave his consent later on the continued insistence of the IAF.
The trials of AgustaWestland helicopter were carried out in the UK while the Sikorsky chopper was tested in the US from 16 January 2008 to February 2008.