Union defence minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has given its nod to capital acquisition proposals worth around ₹7,800 crore to procure electronic warfare, ground-based autonomous systems, light machine guns and bridge laying tanks, and gadgets under Project Shakti.

To enhance the efficiency of the Indian Air Force, the council has 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 has also cleared 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.

The nod for the procurement of ruggedised laptops and tablets for the Indian Army under Project Shakti has also been approved. To enhance the operational capability of the MH-60R helicopters of the Indian Navy, the council has approved the procurement of weapons for the same.

In March 2023, the Ministry of Defence had also signed contracts with Indian shipyards for the acquisition of 11 next-generation offshore patrol vessels and six next-generation missile vessels at an overall cost of ₹19,600 crore. Of the 11 ships, seven will be indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured by GSL and four by GRSE. The delivery of the ships is scheduled to commence in September 2026.

The ministry had also signed a contract to acquire six next generation missile vessels with Cochin Shipyard Ltd for ₹9,805 crore. The delivery of ships is scheduled to commence from March 2027. Additionally, the government also inked a contract with BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd for procurement of next-generation maritime mobile coastal batteries and BrahMos missiles at a cost of ₹1,700 crore.

According to the defence ministry, to promote self-reliance in defence sector, funds under modernisation budget for financial year 2023-24 has 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 development of defence products. The government has already earmarked ₹1,500 crore in Financial Year 2023-24 for start-ups and MSMEs via domestic private industries.

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