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Aero India 2023

India approves defence acquisition projects worth Rs 2.23 lakh cr


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NEW DELHI (PTI): India on Thursday accorded an initial approval to defence acquisition projects worth Rs 2.23 lakh crore that included procurement of 97 Tejas light combat aircraft and 156 Prachand combat helicopters in a major move to significantly enhance the combat capabilities of its armed forces amid China's increasing military posturing along the contested frontier.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, cleared the projects which also included procurement of medium range anti-ship missiles (MRAShM) for the Indian Navy and upgrading 84 Su-30 fighter jets of the Indian Air Force.

The defence ministry said 98 per cent of the total procurement worth Rs 2.23 lakh crore will be sourced from the domestic industries and that the move will give a substantial boost to the Indian defence industry in achieving the goal of 'Aatmanirbharta' (self-reliance) in defence industry.

The approval to the mega procurement projects comes at a time India is locked in a bitter military standoff with China at a number of friction points in eastern Ladakh for over three years as well as concerns over growing forays by Chinese warships into the Indian Ocean region.

Official sources said the additional batch of 97 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Mark IA) will be procured at a cost of around Rs 67,000 crore.

In February 2021, the defence ministry sealed a Rs 48,000 crore deal with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for procurement of 83 Tejas MK-1A jets for the IAF.

With the additional fleet, the number of indigenously-developed Tejas aircraft being procured by the IAF would go up to 180.

Out of the 156 Prachand Light Combat Helicopters (LCH), 90 will be for the Army and 66 will be for the Indian Air Force.

Developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the 5.8-tonne twin-engine LCH is armed with various weapon systems and is capable of destroying enemy tanks, bunkers, drones and other assets in high-altitude regions.

The helicopter possesses modern stealth characteristics, robust armour protection and formidable night attack capability, and it is fully capable of even operating in Siachen, the world's highest battle-field.

The DAC has also accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) or initial approval for procurement of two types of anti-tank munitions namely area denial munition (ADM) type-2 and type-3.

The top body on procurement of military hardware also cleared acquisition and integration of automatic target tracker (ATT) and digital basaltic computer (DBC) for T-90 tanks besides approving another proposal to buy MRAShM for the Indian Navy.

The MRAShM is a lightweight surface-to-surface missile which will be a primary offensive weapon onboard various Indian naval ships.

"The DAC accorded AoNs for procurement of Light Combat Helicopter for Indian Air Force and Indian Army and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk-1A for IAF from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category," the ministry said.

Though it did not mention the specific numbers, official sources said 97 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (Mark 1A) are being procured for the IAF and 156 LCHs are being procured for the Army and the Air Force.

"The AoNs have also been accorded by the DAC for upgradation of Su-30 MKI aircraft indigenously from HAL.

"While procurement of these equipment will provide enormous strength to the IAF, acquisition from domestic defence industries will take the indigenous capability to a new height," the ministry said in a statement.

"It will also reduce dependability on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) substantially," it added.

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