India is investigating fraud allegations related to the acquisition of engines for the Hawk advanced jet trainer. (BAE Systems)
NEW DELHI — India’s anti-fraud agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has begun a probe into alleged corruption charges against UK-based Rolls Royce in the supply of engines to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to power the Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft.
The overhaul and license production of Hawk trainers at HAL facilities is unlikely to be affected, said a HAL source.
India contracted the purchase of 66 Hawk trainers from BAE Systems in 2003 for US $1.2 billion and 57 Hawk trainers in 2010 for $780 million.
The probe was ordered by the Ministry of Defense March 2 on the recommendations of the Chief Vigilance Officer of HAL, who had received an anonymous letter in December indicating payment of bribes by Rolls Royce to unknown HAL personnel to win the order to supply Adour engines for the Hawk trainer aircraft, a HAL source said.
While no MoD official would publicly comment on the CBI probe, an MoD source said the investigations are only preliminary and that no decision against Rolls Royce nor HAL’s license production of Hawk is currently contemplated.
Rolls Royce executives in New Delhi were unavailable for comment; neither would an official of HAL comment on the matter.
An Indian Air Force official said they are satisfied with the Hawk trainer and would not comment on the CBI probe.
MoD has blacklisted seven foreign defense companies on charges of alleged corruption related to other procurements. Most recently, CBI has investigated the sale of 12 VVIP helicopters by Anglo-Italian company AgustaWestland.
Senior officers of the Indian Defense Services have expressed concerns that such blacklisting of overseas companies delays purchase of essential weapons.
“The ruling United Progressive Alliance [UPA] government has been calling in CBI detectives on even an anonymous complaint, the purpose of which is only to tell the public that the UPA government is against corruption,” said Nitin Mehta, defense analyst here.