India expects to complete its purchase of Barak medium-range surface-to-air missiles, despite a corruption probe. (Wikipedia)
NEW DELHI — India is likely to proceed with the purchase of Barak missiles from Rafael despite a probe of alleged corruption involving prime contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and former Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes, an Indian Defence Ministry source said.
India’s top weapons purchasing authority, the Defence Acquisition Council, said at a Nov. 11 meeting that it had referred the missile purchase to an internal committee for evaluation.
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had charged Fernandes in a $326 million deal involving the purchase of Barak anti missile systems from IAI, contracted in 2000. So far, the CBI has not released any findings on the probe.
But the Defence Ministry source said the CBI is likely to close the case against IAI and described the internal inquiry is only a formality.
The Navy has been demanding the purchase of Barak missiles, but the Defence Ministry has been holding back because of the alleged kickback case. Currently, three of the Indian Navy ships that have the Barak air defense system on board have no missiles.
The Navy had given a proposal to the Defence Ministry early this year to procure about 300 Barak missiles for the warships Ranvir, Brahmaputra, Betwa and Beas at a cost of around $100 million.
The Barak under purchase is an anti-aircraft, anti-missile system with a range of 70 kilometers, a warhead of 52 kilograms and speed of Mach 2.