India has accelerated the domestic and foreign purchase of weapons in the wake of a border clash between Indian and Chinese troops.
Sino-Indo relations are suffering after a skirmish with Chinese troops on June 15 in Galwan Valley. India said 20 of its soldiers were killed, as were Chinese soldiers. Chinese officials have not confirmed any casualties.
The Defence Acquisition Council on Friday approved a collection of arms procurement projects worth $5.55 billion, including domestic efforts worth $.4.44 billion. DAC is an apex-level body that falls under the purview of the Ministry of Defence.
“In the current situation and the need to strengthen the armed forces for the defence of our borders, and in line with our Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ [self-sufficient India], the DAC, in its meeting of July 2 held under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accorded approval for capital acquisitions of various platforms and equipment required by the Indian armed forces. Proposals for an approximate cost of $5.55 billion were approved,” the MoD said in a statement.
Under the approval, India will upgrade 59 of its MiG-29 aircraft and buy 21 more from Russia for about $1 billion. In addition, India will order 12 Russian-made Su-30MKI fighters from the local state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for $1.53 billion.
The government has also approved several indigenous development programs, including ammunition for Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers; an armaments upgrade of BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles; software-defined radios; Nirbhay land-attack cruise missiles; and Astra beyond-visual-range missiles.
The government also approved the emergency purchase of Excalibur artillery rounds for M777 ultralight howitzers from the United States, Igla-S air defense systems from Russia and Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel.
It’s also granted special financial powers that comes with a ceiling of $71.42 million to rapidly buy weapons. But these fast-track purchasing programs will still involve a multi-vendor competition. Twenty-five of these procurement programs are for the Army and the Air Force; 10 are for the Navy. The Army is likely to buy ammunition for its T-90 tanks, BMP-2 vehicles, air defense guns, artillery guns and small arms, as well as rockets, missiles and mortars. The Air Force is likely to buy air-to-air missiles, air to-ground missiles, smart bombs, chaffs, flares and precision-guided munitions.
As part of the procurement effort, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar visited Moscow from June 22-25 and met with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov and chief of Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheev.
An MoD official said India requested the immediate supply of spare parts for Su-30MKI fighters, Kilo-class submarines and T-90 tanks, as well as the emergency purchase of missiles and specialized ammunition for Russian-origin fighter jets, tanks, warships and submarines.
Another MoD official said the Indian government plans to sign defense contracts with Russia worth $800 million to buy weapons and spare parts.
DAC-approved projects are expected to be awarded within a year, with technology induction starting after about three years. For fast-track and emergency purchases, induction is to begin within a month and be completed within a year.