Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday cleared proposals to buy military equipment worth Rs 4,444 crore, including four survey vessels for the navy for Rs 2,324 crore.
Chairing the second meeting of the defence acquisition council (DAC) after taking over as defence minister, Parrikar approved projects relating to upgrade of the army’s electronic warfare equipment and the P-7 heavy drop platform for delivering combat payloads in the battlefield.
The DAC’s ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AON) for weapons is the first step towards making the proposed procurements in the coming years. The NDA government has cleared projects worth more than Rs 140,000 crore since it was voted to power in May.
The army is on course to get its indigenous Samyukta electronic warfare systems modernised along with a maintenance contract for the next 10 years for Rs 1,682 crore. The EW system consists of vehicles with equipment for surveillance, interception, monitoring and jamming of all communication and radar signals.
The DAC cleared ‘deviations’ relating to the P-7 heavy drop platform and the naval survey vessels. The approval concerns extending the life of airbags fitted under the platform for damage free touchdown of payload weighing less than 7 tonnes from eight to 15 years. It will cost Rs 402 crore.
The naval survey vessels were approved two years back but a deviation in the project due to the naval utility helicopter being dropped required fresh clearance from the DAC. The navy now requires longer and heavier vessels for the substitute - advanced light helicopters.
The DAC, however, deferred decision on the joint bid by Tata Sons and Airbus to replace the air force’s Avro transport fleet, a project worth Rs 12,000 crore. It has sought more details from the IAF.
On November 22, Parrikar had cleared a proposal to buy 814 artillery guns for the army at a cost of Rs 15,750 crore to fill gaps in India’s defence capabilities. The army has not bought a single artillery gun since the Bofors scandal exploded in the late 1980s.
The artillery guns would be bought under the government’s “Buy and Make” procedure introduced last year to strengthen the indigenous defence sector. The plan is to go in for off-the-shelf purchase of 100 guns and manufacture the remaining in the country.