Rs39k-crore military deal okayed for jets, missiles
The cost of military hardware cleared for purchase from the domestic industry is pegged at Rs 31,130 crore and the orders are expected to give a push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self-Reliant India Movement), a defence ministry said spokesperson said.Updated: Jul 03, 2020 01:17 IST
Amid the border row in Ladakh and worst tensions there since the 1962 India-China war, the defence ministry on Thursday approved the purchase of weapons and ammunition worth Rs 38,900 crore, a government spokesperson said. The purchases will include 33 new fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF) that is grappling with a shortage of warplanes.
The proposals green-lighted by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) include buying of 21 MiG-29s from Russia, 12 new Sukhoi-30 fighters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), homegrown Astra BVR air-to-air missiles, locally-developed land-attack cruise missile (LACM) systems with a range of 1,000 km, indigenous rocket systems, and the upgrade of 59 MiG-29 jets, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The cost of military hardware cleared for purchase from the domestic industry is pegged at Rs 31,130 crore and the orders are expected to give a push to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self-Reliant India Movement), the spokesperson said.
In a reference to the ongoing border dispute that has soured the military relationship with China, the statement said the weapon purchases were approved by the DAC --- headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh --- “in the current situation and [because of] the need to strengthen the armed forces for the defence of our borders.”
The council also accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for additional Pinaka artillery rocket systems, upgrade of infantry combat vehicles (ICVs) and advanced radio communication systems. Under India’s defence procurement rules, AoN by the council is the first step towards buying military hardware.
The AoNs granted by the council will take a few years to fructify but the approval sends out a strong message about the government’s seriousness to go indigenous, said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
“AoN for additional fighter aircraft is gratifying as it will help stabilise the IAF’s holdings. Particularly encouraging is the confidence placed in the Astra BVR and LACM. But these AoNs have to be backed up with the release of funds, else they amount to just an administrative acceptance of a need and not a procurement,” Bahadur said.
“One supposes that in the current security environment, money would be forthcoming,” he added.
The 12 Sukhoi-30s to be bought from HAL will cost Rs 10,730 crore, while the 21 new MiG-29s that will be imported from Russia and the 59 existing MiG-29 jets to be upgraded in that country will cost Rs 7,418 crore. These steps will address the “long-felt need of the IAF to increase its fighter squadrons”, the ministry said.
Acquisition of new/additional missile systems would add to the military’s firepower, the statement said.
“While the acquisition of Pinaka missile systems will enable raising additional regiments, the long-range LACM systems will bolster the attack capabilities of the navy and the IAF. Induction of Astra missiles will serve as a force multiplier and immensely add to the strike capability of the navy and the IAF,” the statement added.
The domestic purchases worth Rs 31,130 crore factor in the cost (Rs 10,730 crore) of the Sukhoi-30s to be purchased from HAL
The remaining Rs 24,400 crore will be spent on Pinaka ammunition, ICV armament upgrade, LACM systems, Astra missiles and software-defined radios, the defence ministry said, adding that the indigenous content in some of these projects would be up to 80% of the project cost.
From raising foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing to creating a separate budget for buying locally-made military hardware and notifying a list of weapons/equipment that cannot be imported, the government in May announced a raft of measures to boost self-reliance in the defence sector.