India has cleared today a bulk of defense projects worth $13 billion in a bid to boost the country’s national defense preparedness, the Indian Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) said.
The biggest ticket item is the construction of six new submarine, to be undertaken by domestic shipbuilders based on foreign designs. The program is expected to span over a decade and cost about $8 billion.
Following the decision India’s defense ministry is expected to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a study to seek potential contractors that would have the capacity and manpower to build all six submarines or part of the six.
The submarines will be Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) capable that will enable them to stay underwater for longer than a conventional submarine besides having enhanced stealth features.
The DAC also cleared the procurement of Israeli Spike MR missiles and launchers under a $525 million plan to field more than 8000 missiles replacing the current Milan in the Army service.
Another important acquisition will be the procurement of 12 upgraded Dornier DO-228 surveillance aircraft with for the coast guard, for about $300 million. Those aircraft will carry improved sensors for maritime surveillance.
Additionally, the Army will receive 362 infantry fighting vehicle from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) as well as new lorries , both produced by domestic manufacturers from the private sector.
The DAC meeting in New Delhi was chaired by Defense Minister Arun Jaitley. Defense Secretary RK Mathur, the chiefs of three All India Services and Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Director General Avinash Chander, also attended.
Modernization of India’s military assets is long overdue. Indian experts have repeatedly complained about the country’s deteriorating military prowess, saying Indian defense infrastructure is age-old and has become obsolete.
Beefing up the country’s border security and defense, through expediting the long delayed defense modernization plans were among the priorities of the new government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.