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India approves defence purchase worth Rs 84,560 cr; procurement include mid-air refuellers, maritime aircraft


IAF's C-17 Globemaster III during the Vayu Shakti 2024 exercise at Pokhran Range, in Jaisalmer district, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI):  India has approved defence big-ticket acquisition projects worth Rs 84,560 crore that included procurement of mid-air refuellers, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, heavy weight-torpedoes, air defence radars and new generation anti-tank mines to bolster the combat prowess of the armed forces.

Cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, almost all the procurement projects will be implemented with a broader framework of the government's focus on ensuring self-reliance in defence manufacturing, officials said.

"In the true spirit of 'Aatmanirbharta', the approvals accorded on February 16 lay special emphasis on procurement of various equipment from Indian vendors," the defence ministry said last Friday.

It said the acquisition will boost the capabilities of the armed forces and the Indian Coast Guard.

Though the ministry did not share the number of mid-air refuellers being procured for the Indian Air Force, it is learnt that the approval is for purchasing six such tanker aircraft.

"The DAC accorded AoN for procurement of flight refueller aircraft for enhancing the operational capabilities and reach of the Indian Air Force," the ministry said.

It said the approval of necessity (AoN) or initial approval for procurement of medium range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime aircraft has been granted by the DAC for strengthening the surveillance and interdiction capabilities of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard.

It is learnt that 15 C-295 aircraft are being procured for the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.

The Indian Air Force is getting 56 C295 transport aircraft under a previously finalised deal worth Rs 21,935 crore. In September last year, the IAF received the delivery of the first C-295 aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space.

"Further, to keep the Indian Naval ships one step ahead of the threats posed by the adversaries, the AoN under Buy (Indian) category has been accorded for procurement of active towed array Sonar having capabilities to operate at low frequencies and various depths for long range detections of adversary submarines," the ministry said in a statement.

It said the AoN has also been accorded for procurement of heavy weight torpedoes for enhancing the attacking capabilities of Kalvari class submarines.

"The AoN for sustainment support through Follow On Support (FOS) and Repair Replenishment support through Follow On Supply Support (FOSS) for 24 MH60R aircraft under foreign military sale route with the US government has also been accorded," it added.

The DAC also approved procurement of a new generation of anti-tank mines having "seismic sensor" and provision of remote deactivation with additional safety features, the ministry said.

"In order to enhance the operational efficiency and domination in the tactical battle area for engaging targets that are beyond visual line of sight by the mechanised forces, the AoN under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category has been accorded for procurement of canister launched anti-armour loiter munition system," it said.

Another proposal to procure air defence tactical control radar was also approved by the high-level committee.

"To strengthen the air defence systems, especially the capabilities to detect slow, small and low-flying targets as well as surveillance, detection and tracking of different targets, the AoN has been accorded for procurement of air defence tactical control radar under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category," the ministry said.

The IDDM category means indigenously designed, developed and manufactured.

The DAC also approved procurement software defined radios for the Coast Guard under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category.

"This will fulfill the requirement of the ICG for having a high-speed communication with secure networking capability for seamless information exchange between the ICG and the Indian Navy units," the ministry said.

To promote procurement of advanced technologies from start-ups and MSMEs developed under the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) and Technology Development Fund schemes, the DAC has approved amendments in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 with respect to benchmarking and cost computation, payment schedule, procurement quantity etc, it said.

"This will provide the much-needed incentive along with a supportive business environment for the start-ups and MSMEs under iDEX and TDF schemes, truly in the spirit of 'Ease of Doing Business'," it said.

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