(File photo)
(File photo) | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

New Delhi, June 6: At a time when the government is pushing for “aatmanirbharta” in defence sector, public sector undertaking, Gliders India Limited (GIL) has been left out in a limited tender floated by the Indian Army last December for 350 ‘combat free fall parachute systems’.

Peeved, GIL CMD, VK Tiwari, wrote a letter, which has been accessed by businessline, to Director General of Infantry, on January 18, 2023, protesting at “not in receipt of this tender”. “It is understood that a limited tender, as per ref.5, for Combat Free Fall Parachute (CFF) System has been issued by Infantry 7, for procurement of 350 nos of CFF systems to some of the probable suppliers under ‘Buy Indian’ category. Gliders India Limited is not in receipt of this tender. With this letter, it is requested to consider the claim of GIL to participate in the tender,” GIL CMD VK Tiwari wrote to the DG Infantry. He also marked the letter to DDG 7th Infantry Brigade, and Defence secretary Giridhar Aramane, among others.

‘Not considered’

Though the CMD sought participation in the bidding process, Army sources said the Infantry division went ahead with the procurement procedure without considering the erstwhile Kanpur-based ordnance factory board, GIL. “The issue is at financial advisor stage,” Army sources pointed out without getting into merits of the tender decision.

Tiwari, however, refused to comment when businessline sought his reaction on his letter taking objection to the Army’s tender for purchase of CFF parachute systems that provide total solution to paratrooper for jumping from an air borne platforms. The parachute allows glide up to 30 kilometer range for landing at desired target — be it at high-altitude high-opening (HAHO) or high-altitude low-opening (HALO) modes.

To drive his point that “Ordnance Parachute Factory (OPF)“, a unit of the GIL, was eligible to bid, the CMD explained that his organisation is the “oldest and largest parachute manufacturer in India and has been supplying all types of parachutes to our armed forces”.

The full spectrum of parachutes GIL makes include: man carrying parachutes; supply drop parachutes; brake parachutes for fighter jets used by Indian Air Force like SU-30, Jaguar, Hawk, MIG series, Tejas and Miraj; pilot parachutes for Kiran, Jaguar, SU 30; ammunition parachutes; recovery parachutes; and special parachutes.

“In the past more than 7 decades of existence, we have supplied tens of thousands of man carrying, supply drop and break parachutes to Indian Armed Forces with an impeccable record for quality and performance which is validated by more than a million jumps,” Tiwari insisted.

The CMD also told the DG Infantry through the letter that a world renowned foreign supplier was ready to work with them if the “Glider is permitted to participate in the requirement for this item by 7th Infantry Brigade.”

Not just that, Tiwari also gave an instance of another bidding of CFF parachutes by the armed force where his firm was engaged. The defence PSU was contacted for requirements of another 500 High Altitude Parachute Penetration System (HAPPS) for all wings of armed forces, and against that the GIL gave details of its capabilities, Tiwari noted.

Later, ‘CV’ of GIL was also successfully conducted in January 2022 and it was decided that “there would be no favouring of any specific vendor. Entire process would involve a level-playing field in keeping with provisions of DAP-2020 and higher directions. Development and procurement opportunities would be extended to all production agencies especially for initial lot of 500 HAPPS,” Tiwari stated in his official communique.

In this regard, he said that GIL also gave comments on draft General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) on June 23, 2022, but it is still awaiting an invitation to bid against requirement of this system.

In 2021, the central government revamped 41 ordnance factories and converted them into seven government companies including the GIL which last year got orders for export of parachutes.