In 2000, the MoD wanted to buy a VVIP helicopter, for which the IAF was roped in to create specs and evaluate a suitable helicopter for the requirements sent by the MoD.
In 2003, after evaluation, the IAF recommended only one helicopter, the Eurocopter EC225. The AugustaWestland AW101 did not have the specified 6,000 metre altitude ceiling and therefore was rejected.
Brajesh Mishra blocked the evaluation asking why a 6,000m ceiling was required. The ceiling was reduced to 4,500m. AW101 was now qualified but Eurocopter, too.
Then SPG said the cabin height of 1.39m of Eurocopter EC225 was too less. At least 1.8m cabin height was required. Now Eurocopter was out of the reckoning. Only the AW101 passed the cabin height specification.
Because of the chaos caused, fresh proposals were invited from 6 vendors. Only 3 responded – Sikorsky, Mikoyan and AugustaWestland. Mikoyan rejected the integrity clause in the Indian contract. So now there were only Sikorsky and AugustaWestland in the fray.
Meanwhile ACM Tyagi retired in 2007
In 2008, trials for AugustaWestland AW101 and Sikorsky S-92 were held by the IAF. AugustaWestland won the contract.
Contract for supply of AugustaWestland AW101 was signed in Feb 2010.
The first AW101 was supplied in 2012.
Scandal breaks out in 2012-2013.
It is hard to believe that one person took charge of the whole Govt of India, altered specifications and manipulated trials even after he retired. He thereby relegated competitors, increased the price, and influenced the signing of a Rs 3,600 crore contract for his sponsor AgustaWestland.
Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi – CAS (Dec 2004 to Mar 2007) must have been the most powerful person on Raisina Hill, before and after his tenure, since the specifications were framed in 2003, trials were conducted in 2008 and the contract signed in 2010. So, what exactly did this one man do?
Is it a replay of l’affaire Dreyfus (1894, Paris)?
The Mysterious Scam – Step by Step
2000: Proposal for new helicopter by IAF on behalf of PMO, MoD & MHA
2003: Only Eurocopter EC 225 is cleared by IAF
Brajesh Mishra’s intervention – why 6,000 metres?
SPG objection – Cabin is very low (1.39 metres)
2003: New Specifications framed by IAF
Altitude of 4,500 metres, and
Cabin Height of 1.80 metres
2006: Request For the Proposal to 6 firms
Only 3 Firms responded
Mi-172 rejected the integrity contract
2008: Trials for Sikorsky S-92 and AW101
2010: Contract signed in February
2012: The first AW 101 arrived in India
2012-13: Scandal Revealed
The Cast – IAF Chiefs
AY Tipnis (1998-2001)
CAS during Kargil War
Did not salute President Musharraf (2001)
S Krishnaswamy (2001-2004)
Mention in Despatches (1966) and Vayu Sena Medal (1978, 1982)
SP Tyagi (2004-2007)
Veteran of the 1965 and 1971 Wars
Commissioning crew for the Jaguar. FH Major (2007-2009)
First helicopter pilot to be CAS
Shaurya Chakra for Timber Trail rescue (1992)
PV Naik (2009-2011)
Veteran of 1971 Indo-Pak War
His elder son is in the IAF
NAK Browne (2011-2013)
His son, Oman is in the IAF Ambassador to Norway (Sep 2014-2016)
The Cast – Defence Secretary
Yogendra Narain (2000-2002)
Secretary-General of Rajya Sabha (2002-07)
Director – Reliance Power.
Subir Dutta (2002-2002)
Member UPSC (2003-08) and Chairman (2007-08)
Ajay Prasad (2003-2004)
Director – OIA
Ajai Vikram Singh (2004-2005)
Director – Pipavav Defence
Shekhar Dutt (2005-2007)
Deputy National Security Advisor (2007-09)
Governor of Chhattisgarh (2010-14, sacked)
Vijay Singh (2007-2009)
Member UPSC (2009-13)
Director at Tata Sons
Pradeep Kumar (2009-2011)
Secretary for Defence Production (2008-09)
Defence Secretary (2009-11)
Central Vigilance Commissioner (2011-15)
Shashi Kant Sharma (2011-2013)
Joint Secretary with AF HQ (2003-07)
DG Acquisition (2007-10)
Defence Secretary (2011-13)
CAG (May 2013 to 2018)
The Air Force was called in only to evaluate the helicopters offered. The specifications were set by the GoI, the specifications were changed by the GoI, the trials and evaluation were carried out by the IAF, after the accused had retired.
At what point of the entire fracas was the accused in a position to influence the trial, evaluation, the purchase decision or the contract?
Once again, the big fish have digested and burped. Someone else is in the net.
By Rajiv Tyagi
Veteran IAF Pilot