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New military hardware to be bought across systems

ByRahul Singh
Apr 08, 2023 11:54 PM IST

Under India’s defence procurement rules, the AoN by the council is the first in a series of steps towards buying military hardware.

Eyeing a sweeping military capability boost in the midst of a lingering border row with China in eastern Ladakh, which is set to enter its fourth year in May, India is likely to float tenders for different types of indigenous weapons and systems in financial year 2023-24 including light tanks, artillery guns, utility helicopters, modern combat vehicles and air defence weapons, officials familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

In the last 12 months, DAC accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for projects worth more than <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>2.71 lakh crore.(Getty Images/Representational)
In the last 12 months, DAC accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for projects worth more than 2.71 lakh crore.(Getty Images/Representational)

Also read: DRDO approaches CCS for AMCA project approval

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India cleared the decks for buying this military hardware in FY 2022-23. In the last 12 months, the defence acquisition council (DAC), India’s top weapons procurement body, accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for projects worth more than 2.71 lakh crore, according to defence ministry data. In a big push for self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector, 99% of this procurement will be done from the domestic industry.

Modernising the armed forces with locally made platforms is a top priority for the government, and proposals made by the armed forces for upgrading their capabilities are being cleared at a swift pace, the officials said.

On April 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the defence sector will be provided all the resources, weapons and technologies required at the Combined Commanders’ Conference in Bhopal. Modi assessed the operational readiness of the armed forces, carried out a security review, and asked the military to stay prepared for new and emerging threats.

Under India’s defence procurement rules, the AoN by the council is the first in a series of steps towards buying military hardware.

The ministry will now take the projects forward by issuing requests for proposals (RFP) to Indian vendors. After the RFP, the next steps include vendors responding to it with techno-commercial offers, opening and evaluation of technical offers, extensive trials, staff evaluation, opening of commercial offers that are technically compliant with the RFP, and finally, the contract being awarded.

Light tanks, futuristic infantry combat vehicles (FICV) and artillery guns were among the key army proposals cleared by the DAC, headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh, in FY 2022-23.

The light tank is a key capability the army needs to tackle the increased threat that persists along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The future tank has already been named Zorawar after Dogra king Gulab Singh’s legendary general, Zorawar Singh. It will be packed with cutting-edge technologies including drone integration, active protection systems and superior situational awareness.

The FICV is one of the key indigenous capabilities that the mechanised infantry is eyeing, other than night-fighting gear, anti-drone weapons, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. These capabilities will transform the mechanised infantry into a more lethal, agile and integrated force capable of delivering a swift and effective response in battle, as previously reported by HT.

The army is also looking at inducting the 155mm/52-caliber advanced towed artillery gun systems (ATAGS). The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) began the ATAGS project in 2013 to replace older guns with modern ones. It partnered with two private firms, Bharat Forge Limited and Tata Advanced Systems Limited, for manufacturing the gun. It has a range of 48km.

Modi reviewed the progress in achieving self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector at the commanders’ conference. The government has taken several measures in recent years to promote self-reliance including creating a separate budget for buying locally made military hardware, increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) from 49% to 74%, and notifying hundreds of weapons and systems that cannot be imported.

Also read: ‘Targets intercepted’: India conducts back-to-back tests of air defence weapon

The indigenisation drive is being pursued alongside a sharpened focus on boosting the country’s arms exports. India exported military hardware worth 15,920 crore in FY 2022-23, the highest ever and a notable tenfold increase since 2016-17, with Modi recently attributing the growth to enthusiasm for Make in India, and key reforms to spur growth in the sector.

The exports stood at 1,521 crore in 2016-17, 4,682 crore in 2017-18, 10,745 crore in 2018-19, 9,115 crore in 2019-20, 8,434 crore in 2020-21, and 12,814 crore in 2021-22, according to government data.

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