Wipro, India’s third-largest information technology (IT) services company, is likely to bag a contract worth Rs 960 crore from the Indian Air Force (IAF) to automate its maintenance management system.
The city-based soap-to-software maker has emerged as the lowest bidder for the contract, according to sources with direct knowledge of the development. Wipro is understood to have quoted Rs 960 crore for the project, while the second- and third-lowest bidders have quoted over Rs 1,000 crore.
The defence ministry had issued the request for proposals (RFP) in 2008. Around 14 Indian and global IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Wipro and HCL, were said to be in the fray.
The sources said Wipro had bid for the contract as a system integrator for the project, with IBM as the original equipment manufacturer. Wipro will be responsible for the supply, installation, integration and maintenance of servers, and storage for the project, while IBM will supply the necessary hardware.
Anand Sankaran, senior vice-president and business head - India, Middle East & Africa of Wipro’s IT business, declined to comment. The IAF spokesperson could not be reached, despite repeated attempts.
The IAF intends to set up an enterprise-wide, web-based and centralised online e-maintenance management system. This will help in configuration management, fleet planning and management, maintenance repair and overhaul, along with the supply chain management of the IAF’s entire fleet of aircraft, radars, missiles and other equipment.
According to the terms of the RFP, the system will first be implemented centrally and then be gradually rolled out in 170 locations, covering about 550 units of the IAF with a user base of 70,000.
“IT is at the heart of any defence platform these days. Other than the latest warfare and training, Indian defence forces’ drive for modernisation requires a 21st century network-centric command, control, communication and intelligence structure. Thus, this conversion to a digital age, coupled with the drive to increase indigenisation, is bound to open up new opportunities for Indian IT companies,” said Rajiv Chib, associate director - aerospace and defence, PwC India.
IAF is increasingly seen using technologies to make its processes simpler. Earlier, TCS had implemented an integrated materials management online system for the IAF to electronically manage its inventory, spares, weapons and other systems. In collaboration with Cisco, HCL Infosystems and BSNL, the IAF has also launched air force network for Rs 1,077 crore.
The IAF contract is expected to alleviate Wipro’s concerns regarding the domestic market.