Eye on China: India to get Rs 38,900-cr defence upgrade amid border dispute

A file photo of the newly commissioned MiG-29 K at the Naval Base INS Hansa in Goa. The ministry will procure from Russia and upgrade MiG-29s at the cost of Rs 7,418 crore.
The ministry of defence (MoD) has acknowledged the seriousness of the situation in Ladakh, where Indian soldiers are facing off against Chinese intruders, by approving the purchase of weapons and equipment worth Rs 38,900 crore.

“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 ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-sufficient India), the Defence Acquisition Council (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 Rs 38,900 crore were approved,” the MoD stated on Thursday. 

“Further, addressing the long-felt need of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to increase its fighter squadrons, the DAC also approved the proposal for procurement of 21 MiG-29 fighters, along with upgrade of existing 59 MiG-29s and procurement of 12 Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft,” said the MoD.

The ministry said procurement from Russia and upgrade of MiG-29s would cost about Rs 7,418 crore, while Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would build the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in Nashik for an estimated Rs 10,730 crore. 

The MoD stated that, given its “focus on indigenous design and development”, the bulk of the clearances — worth Rs 31,130 crore — have been accorded for indigenously built weaponry. The indigenous equipment “involves Indian defence industry with participation of several MSMEs (medium, small, and micro enterprises) as prime tier vendors. The indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80 per cent of the project cost”, said the MoD.  

Indian companies are building much of this equipment — worth Rs 20,400 crore — based on technology transferred to them by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO). These include the Astra air-to-air missile, software defined radio (SDR), munitions for Pinaka multi-barrelled rocket launchers and Land Attack Cruise Missiles (LACMs), said DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy.

The Astra missile, for which the first order will now be processed, is an indigenous design triumph. It is in the “beyond visual range” (BVR) class of air-to-air missiles, fired from fighter aircraft to destroy fast manoeuvring enemy targets by day or night. The Astra missile is being integrated with Sukhoi-30MKI.

The MoD said the clearance for the Pinaka MBRL would allow additional Pinaka regiments to be raised, boosting the army’s attack capabilities. Pinaka is all-weather, indirect fire rocket system that delivers a lethal punch from multiple rockets to area targets such as enemy troops in the open, armoured and soft-skinned vehicles and fuel and ammunition dumps. 

Funding has been allocated for the development programme of the Nirbhay “long-range land attack cruise missile”  that engages targets up to 1,000 kms away. 

The DRDO say it has “developed, demonstrated and matured critical cruise missile technologies such as aerodynamic configuration, vertical launch using solid booster, thrust vector control system, booster separation, in-flight wing deployment, in-flight engine start and long range way-point navigation system. Seeker development and testing by DRDO laboratories are demonstrated and is at a high level of readiness.”

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