Three days after accusations of enticements in a deal between the world’s third largest commercial aircraft maker, Embraer and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were made public by a Brazilian paper, DRDO’s chief, S Christopher met defence minister Manohar Parrikar on September 12, briefing him on India’s airborne early warning and control (AWE&C) systems project based on the Embraer-145 plane.
India has set a 15-day deadline for the Brazilian aircraft maker to submit a report on the allegations. It is asserted that a UK-based middleman may have been paid bribes to influence the deal, which is not permissible in defence business in India.
Signed during the UPA regime, Embraer had sold three EMB 145 AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control) aircraft to the DRDO in the year 2008 in the $208 million deal. The first two made-to-order aircraft were delivered in 2012, and the third aircraft later. The planes supplied by Brazil have been fitted with indigenous radars to serve as AEW&C aircraft for the Indian Air Force under a Rs 2,400-crore project to develop a new range of early warning and control aircraft. The Government of India may ask CBI to probe into the matter if evidence of criminality is detected.
A fresh boycotting policy for arms contractors, with new penalties, has been drafted, debarring firms from conducting business with the government for a period ranging from one to 10 years. The provisions can be raised in case criminality and evidence of bribery is proved. In 2014, India terminated a contract with AgustaWestland to supply 12 VVIP helicopters, following bribe allegations.