The Defence Ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved nine capital acquisition proposals worth ₹45,000 crore. These procurements will be made from Indian vendors under the ‘buy’ category, in line with the Centre’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ push.
The approval has been given for the procurement of light armoured multipurpose vehicles, integrated surveillance and targeting system, and high mobility vehicle gun towing vehicles for swift mobilisation and deployment of artillery guns and radars, and nextgen survey vessels for the Navy.
For the Indian Air Force, avionic upgradation of Dornier aircraft to improve the accuracy and reliability for operations has been approved. The project regarding procurement of Dhruvastra short-range air-to-surface missile for ALH Mk-IV helicopters and 12 Su-30 MKI Aircraft with associated equipment from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was cleared.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says it’s time to upgrade the country’s ambitions towards indigenisation. “Rather than a threshold of 50% indigenous content for IDDM projects, we should aim for a minimum of 60-65% indigenous content,” he says.
In August, too, the DAC had accorded nod to capital acquisition proposals worth around ₹7,800 crore to procure electronic warfare, ground-based autonomous systems, light machine gun and bridge laying tanks, and gadgets under Project Shakti.
The council granted clearance for the procurement and installation of an electronic warfare (EW) suite on Mi-17 V5 helicopters under the buy (Indian-IDDM) category, which will enhance better survivability of helicopters. The EW Suite will be procured from Bharat Electronics Ltd(BEL).
The DAC also accorded a nod for the procurement of a ground-based autonomous system for mechanised infantry and armoured regiments. It will enable operations like unmanned surveillance, logistic delivery of ammunition, fuel & spares, and casualty evacuation on the battlefield.
The council has also given a go-ahead to the proposals for the procurement of a 7.62x51 mm light machine gun (LMG) and bridge laying tank (BLT). The induction of LMG is expected to enhance the fighting capabilities of infantry forces, and the BLT will result in faster movement of mechanised forces.
According to the defence ministry, to promote self-reliance in defence sector, funds under modernisation budget for the financial year 2023-24 have been earmarked in the ratio of 75:25, where 75% i.e. ₹99,223.03 crore is for procurement through domestic sources and 25% i.e. ₹33,078.24 crore is for foreign procurement.
To encourage indigenous design, says the ministry, the government has taken policy initiatives under schemes like Innovation for Defence Excellence (iDEX), Technical Development Fund (TDF), and Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
This is also encouraging participation of MSMEs or startups in the development of defence products. The government has already earmarked ₹ 1,500 crore in the Financial Year 2023-24 for start-ups and MSMEs via domestic private industries.