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Thursday, 9 June 2016

Indigenous military parachutes'unsafe', DRDO lab under CAG scanner

AGRA: After 13 years of research and crores of rupees spent, parachutes meant for special forces designed by a Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) lab here have not only failed field trials but have also been classed as "seriously life threatening", according to an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), that slammed the functioning of the lab and the indigenous manufacturer. The report (no. 44 of 2015) released on
Wednesday is part of an audit of Army ordnance factories and defence PSUs by CAG, which has pointed out serious lapses on the part of the Aerial Delivery Research and Development Establishment (ADRDE) in Agra and the Ordnance Parachutes Factory (OPF) in Kanpur for allegedly failing to produce combat free fall (CFF) parachutes, despite Rs 10.75 crore in expenses and years of trials. CAG has raised questions about ADRDE, the sole institution in India for development of military-grade parachutes, on its claim of successful trials of CFF chutes, pointing out that an overwhelming 75 per cent of the chutes had failed field trials. CFF parachutes are used by elite paratroopers for highly specialised operations. In 1986, a batch of them had been imported and, with a shelf life of 10 years, had been finally de-commissioned in 2002, being no longer operationally worthy. In 2001, the Army placed an order for 1,031 CFF parachutes, of which 410 were to be procured from abroad on a fast track basis for urgent needs. The remaining 621 were to be produced under a project by ADRDE which started in March 2003. However, in 2006, the ministry of defence ended the import idea, suggesting these chutes also be procured internally. However, according to the CAG report, in 2010, trials of the parachutes found them deficient in quality, with the expert team saying the implications of the flaws were "seriously life threatening". Despite this, the ministry went ahead and in July 2011 ordered two consignments of 25 parachutes each. 

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