New Delhi: The Comptroller and Audit General has sounded a note of caution over the combat readiness of the Navy’s aviation arm as only 26% of its assets are available at any given time, adding to the woes of the force hit by a series of accidents involving its submarines.

In a report, the CAG has also cautioned the Navy over indigenisation efforts, saying while these may be  encouraged, the limitations should be clearly recognised and these should not come at the cost of operational preparedness. Noting that Navy’s air combat capability has weakened drastically as the available aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, is almost half a century old and running on ‘borrowed time’, CAG has blamed sluggish acquisition and high number of aircraft undergoing repair and overhaul for its falling strength.

The audit report says attack capability of the already depleted fighter aircraft fleet is “significantly eroded” as they have not been kept in full combat readiness due to lack of a fully functional fitted radar and limited firing of practise missiles.

“The bombs fitted became obsolescent and  uns are underutilised,” it said. “The period between 1990 and 2005 could be termed as lost decades so far as expansion of aviation assets is concerned… This gap has put tremendous pressure on the aviation arm of the Navy. “Reconnaissance activities have been curtailed due to drastic depletion in the force level and limited capability as a result of ageing of the aircraft, outdated equipment and sub-optimal functioning of the other equipment,” it said.                         –PTI

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