NEW DELHI — Competing companies in the Indian Navy's surface surveillance radar (SSR) tender question whether the low bidder will be able to produce the radar at its proposed cost.

A partnership of India's 's domestic private sector defense major Nova Integrated Systems and in partnership with a subsidiary of the Tata industrial group in tie up with Terma of Denmark has emerged as the lowest bidder, in the Indian Navy's surface surveillance radar (SSR) tender, say Indian Defence Ministry sources.  of 2013, say sources in the Ministry of  Defence(MoD).

However, executives of competing domestic companies competing  in the tender say the Nova-Terma bid is too low and doubted if Nova can  produce the SSR could be produced at that cost.  .at this low cost.Nova's bid is more than five times lower than the highest bidder, MoD sources say. Nova Integrated Systems Ltd quoted $30 million against its rivals Tata Power SED with $44 million and Mahindra Defence Systems with $173 million.

No executive of  Nova or Terma group were available to comment on the huge difference in their bid.

The 2013 SSR tender was the first tender issued in the Buy and Make (India) category.  

"If the  procurement of SSR does not yield results, than it will be a big blow to the Make in India initiative itself," say Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here.

The tender will take quite a time to culminate into a contract as the procurement process is very lengthy and it will still be quite a long length of time before a contract is agreed, said an Indian Navy official.

The Indian Navy will is to procure 31 SSR systems from domestic defense companies under the Buy & Make (India) category, in which domestic companies have to provide at least mandatory 50 percent indigenous content, said an MoD official. The selected bidder has to provide seven years maintenance and lifetime spares support.

The tender was floated in June 2013 and seven domestic companies participated. In addition to Nova, Mahindra and Tata,  in the bids.The bids were sent to Nova Integrated Systems Ltd , Mahindra Defence Systems , Tata Power SED , Broadcast Engineering Consultants India, Limited (BECIL) , Data Patterns India Private, Ltd. , Larsen & Toubro (L& ) Ltd and Bharat Electronics. Ltd.

However only three companies - Nova, Integrated Systems Ltd , Mahindra Defence Systems and Tata Power SED were selected for trials. Nova Integrated systems  teamed  up with Terma, of Denmark ; Mahindra partnered with Defense Systems which has partnered with  Elta of Israel and Tata joined with Power SED  with Indra of Spain.

Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL) teamed up with Rosoboronexport of Russia and did not qualify for field trial stage ;Larsen & Toubro (L & T) Ltd with Cassadian of Germany did not qualify in trials . Data Patterns India Private Ltd teamed up with Reutech of South Africa ;  and  Bharat Electronics Ltd  tied with state owned  Defence  Research and  Development Organization (DRDO) also did not pass technical evaluation The Indian Navy requires that the SSRs be able should have the capability to operate on the X-band frequency and plans to install deploy the radars as part of onboard the designated ship's overall weapon and sensor suite. , as well as related accessories. Capable of providing target designation data to surface-to-surface missiles and other fire-control systems, the SSR will support missions for the Navy such as all-round sector search, detection and automatic tracking. , as well as coordinate determination and motion parameters of surface targets.

The SSR can also be used to detect and track small surface targets such as mines, swimmers and periscopes up to a distance of 12 kilometers in all weather conditions.


Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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