Rs 1lakh crore defence purchases on Manohar Parrikar’s mind
NEW DELHI: In a marathon meeting on new acquisitions, defence minister Manohar Parrikar is set to discuss projects worth over Rs 1 lakh crore, including critical purchases like armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), an advanced air defence system, carbines for the Army and a range of vessels for the Navy.
A meeting of the high-powered Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) is scheduled for Saturday after a gap of several weeks and sources have told ET that the fate of several projects tht have been in the works for years will be discussed. The forces are keen to move ahead on these acquisitions, several of which have not moved for over a year due to differences within the ministry.
High on the agenda is a proposal to acquire a new fleet of armed drone for the Indian Air Force, which will expand its options for punitive cross-border action in response to terror. While a $-400 million proposal for acquiring armed Heron TP drones from Israel was given a quiet goahead .last year, the deal is yet to be inked.
India may now also have the option to purchase US-made Predator armed drones after its recent entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime. Another major Air Force acquisition plan to be discussed is the $6.1-billion purchase of S 400 air defence system from Russia that is seen as a game-changer for the region. The S 400, which is also being procured by China, has a range of over 300 km and an ability to even target aircraft flying deep in enemy territory.
The Air Force is also expected to push for its plans to acquire the Indo-Israeli long-range surface-to-air missile. A long-pending proposal to equip two Boeing 777 VVIP aircraft that are being transferred from Air India with missile avoidance systems is also to be discussed. On the Army front, some clarity is expected on the $700-million plan to purchase M777 ultra-light howitzers under a foreign military sales deal with the us.