New Delhi: In a signal of serious intent to Beinjing, India’s Defence Ministry on Thursday gave the green signal for procurement of 33 fighter jets, missile systems and other military hardware at a cost of Rs 38,900 crore.
The shopping list has some impressive hardware:
21 MiG-29 fighter jets to be procured from Russia
12 Su-30 MKi aircraft to be bought from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL)
upgrade of the existing 59 MiG-29 aircraft
248 ASTRA beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile systems
a significant number of long-range land-attack cruise missile systems with a range of 1,000 km
Pinaka missile systems and ammunition
Software-defined radios for the Army
BMP armament upgrades
The decision on these procurements comes close on the heels of the advance delivery of Rafale fighter jets from France.
These procurement decisions were taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh.
The DAC is India’s highest decision-making body on defence procurement.
In a press release announcing the decision, the Defence Ministry barely bothered to conceal the context of present relations with China. It referred to the "current situation and the need to strengthen the armed forces for the defence of our borders".
The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter standoff at multiple locations in eastern Ladakh for the past seven weeks. Tensions escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.
The procurement of 21 MiG-29s and upgrade of the existing fleet of MiG-29s is estimated to cost the government Rs 7,418 crore while purchase of 12 new Su-30 MKI from HAL will be made at a cost of Rs 10,730 crore, officials said.
"Focused on indigenous design and development, these approvals include acquisitions from Indian industry worth Rs 31,130 crore. The equipments are to be manufactured in India involving the Indian defence industry with participation of several MSMEs as prime tier vendors," it said.
The indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80 per cent of the project cost. A large number of these projects have been made possible due to Transfer of Technology by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) to the indigenous industry," the ministry said.
It said the cost of these design and development proposals is in the range of Rs 20, 400 crore.
"While acquisition of Pinaka missile systems will enable raising additional regiments over and above the ones already inducted, addition of long-range land-attack missile systems having a firing range of 1000 km to the existing arsenal will bolster the attack capabilities of the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force," the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Singh’s visit to Ladakh on Friday has been postponed, and a senior official said it “has been rescheduled”. The minister was due to visit forward areas, hold meetings with local Army commanders in Leh and review military preparedness after the bitter standoff with China.