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Armed Forces being equipped with latest weaponry: Rajnath Singh

JAMMU (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the armed forces of the country are being equipped with latest weaponry, asserting that national security is the government’s topmost priority and it is committed to protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country.

Singh also said the country does not want to depend on imported weapons. The government's aim is to "Make in India, Make for the world", he said addressing a National Security Conclave in Jammu.

“No stone is being left unturned to equip the military with latest weaponry and modern technology,” he said, assuring the nation that the armed forces are fully capable of protecting the borders and the seas.

“Our goal is to bring our armed forces in the frontline of modern militaries,” he said.

Elaborating on the blueprint on national security, Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has been working on four directive principles which include enabling the country to deal with threats to its security and sovereignty and to take every action to protect national interests.

To create safe conditions within the country to facilitate progress, improve the lives of the people and fulfil their aspirations and to build an environment with friendly countries to tackle global challenges such as terrorism unitedly are the other two principles, the Minister said.

Asserting that India has witnessed a paradigm shift in its security scenario in the last nine years, he touched upon the measures taken by the government to bolster national security, including strengthening border infrastructure and achieving ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence.

He listed out a number of steps taken to attain self-reliance, namely notification of positive indigenisation lists and earmarking 75 per cent of defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in financial year 2023-24.

“India does not want to depend on imported weapons. Our national security will only strengthen when we become self-reliant in defence manufacturing. Our aim is to ‘Make in India, Make for the world’. Our efforts are bearing fruit,” he said.

The Defence Minister said India is manufacturing tanks, aircraft carriers, submarines and various kinds of weapons with its defence exports crossing Rs 16,000 crore from a meagre Rs 900 crore before 2014.

“The exports will touch the Rs 20,000-crore mark in the next few months,” he said.

The Defence Minister also enumerated the structural reforms undertaken by the government, including the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of the Department of Military Affairs.

“The government continues to move forward, and work is being done to set up theatre commands, which will be another revolutionary reform,” he said.

The Minister underlined the importance of coordination with major world powers, such as the US and Russia, to protect India’s security interests.

“India and the US are being seen as natural allies and their strategic partnership is being further cemented,” he said, adding India-US defence cooperation has grown rapidly with the expansion of military-to-military engagements, information sharing and cooperation in the fields of artificial intelligence, cyber, space and mutual logistics support.

He termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to the US as a landmark event, which ushered in bilateral defence cooperation in a new era. He called for an integrated and united response to deal with global threats and challenges.

“India is a major regional power. Therefore, it is important for us to align our security concerns with other countries in our extended neighbourhood.”

Singh mentioned about the General Electric Aerospace-Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd deal to co-produce F-414 fighter jet engines in India.

“With this deal, we will become the fourth country to manufacture jet engines. Tejas aircraft will be fitted with these ‘Made-in-India’ engines,” he said.

Rejecting speculative reports on the price and other terms of purchase of MQ-9B drones from the US, he said the Ministry of Defence will compare the acquisition cost of the drones with the best price General Atomics offered to other countries.

“The acquisition will be made only by following the established procurement procedure,” he said.

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