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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

Arms import to be last resort: Defence ministry

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 21, 2013
First Published: 00:31 IST(21/4/2013) | Last Updated: 09:36 IST(21/4/2013)

The armed forces will have to tame their passion for imported weapons, with the defence ministry on Saturday announcing that foreign vendors will be the “last resort” for ramping up capabilities.

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The defence acquisition council (DAC), headed by defence minister AK Antony, has stipulated that the armed forces would have to state reasons for rejecting the public and private sectors in favour of imports.

This is one of the most significant amendments to the government’s two-year-old arms procurement policy to empower India’s domestic defence sector and cut dependence on imports, following alleged kickbacks in the Rs. 3,760-crore VVIP chopper deal.

As reported by HT on February 21, the ministry has also decided to specify beforehand what high-end technologies need to be inducted into the armed forces in the long term.

Also, any deviations in the procurement process will have to be approved by the DAC from now on, instead of the defence minister. The DAC includes the minister of state for defence, the three service chiefs and the defence secretary.

Antony said “rapid indigenisation” of defence platforms, with the involvement of both public and private sectors, was the only way forward.

The DAC has approved the release of a “public version” of its 15-year perspective document to enable the indigenous industry to ramp up its infrastructure and give direction to technology and R&D investments.

“The goal is to infuse greater efficiency in the procurement process and strengthen the country’s defence manufacturing base,” a spokesperson said.

The ministry has also made it clear that qualitative requirements of any weapon or platform would have to be frozen before the “acceptance of necessity” (AoN) by the DAC. The validity of the AoN, which kicks off the acquisition process, has been cut down from two years to one year to speed up procurements and increase transparency.

The ministry has also finalised the ‘defence items’ list, enumerating the weapons and platforms that the private sector can build, to bring clarity to the licensing process.

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