Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday cleared a proposal to buy 814 artillery guns for the army at a cost of Rs 15,750 crore, a move that will help 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 proposal to buy the mounted guns was cleared by the defence acquisition council, headed by Parrikar. The DAC met for the first time after Parrikar took over as defence minister on November 10. The DAC’s ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AON) for weapons is the first step towards making the proposed procurements in the coming years.
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.
Six tenders issued to buy the guns were scrapped in the past due to either the potential suppliers being banned or a single-vendor situation -- a strict no-no under India's arms purchase policy.
The ministry has now cleared the decks to float a fresh tender that will be open to both public and private firms. The Indian company will have the option of tying up with a foreign firm to manufacture the guns in the country.
The DAC, however, deferred decisions on the joint bid by Tata Sons and Airbus to replace the air force’s Avro transport fleet and procurement of 106 Swiss Pilatus basic trainer aircraft. The council approved the revised payment schedule of Rs 7,160 crore for the IAF's integrated air command and control system to integrate all ground and air censors.