In the latest push to self-reliance in defence, India on Monday cleared the purchase of indigenous military hardware worth ₹76,390 crore to sharpen combat capabilities with next-generation warships, wheeled armoured fighting vehicles with anti-tank guided missiles, radars to locate weapons and tanks to lay bridges, the defence ministry announced.
The defence acquisition council (DAC) – India’s apex procurement body – accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the capital acquisition proposals. Under India’s defence procurement rules, AoN by the council, headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh, is the first step towards buying military hardware.
The proposals have been approved by DAC under acquisition categories that seek to promote self-reliance in defence manufacturing. “This will provide substantial boost to the Indian defence industry and reduce foreign spending significantly,” the ministry said.
Next-generation corvettes for the navy will cost around ₹36,000 crore and will be used for surveillance missions, escort operations, search and attack, deterrence, and coastal defence, officials said.
“These corvettes will be based on a new in-house design of the Indian Navy using latest technology, and would contribute to further the government’s initiative of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region),” the ministry said. Other proposals cleared by DAC include the procurement of additional Dornier aircraft, Suk-hoi-30 plane engines and a project for digitisation in the coast guard.
India has imposed a phased ban on the import of 310 types of weapons and systems, including next-generation corvettes, in the past two years to boost self-reliance.
The military hardware sought to be indigenised covers lightweight tanks, naval utility helicopters, artillery guns, missiles, loitering munitions, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft, light transport aircraft, long-range land attack cruise missiles, basic trainer aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, assault rifles, sniper rifles, specified types of helicopters, and airborne early warning and control systems.
The war in Ukraine has exposed India’s overwhelming dependence on imported weaponry, especially from Russia, and India’s military and strategic planners are grappling with issues such as how the war could affect the country’s military readiness, alternatives for sourcing military hardware and speeding up the indigenisation drive to become self-reliant.
The chief takeaways from the Russia-Ukraine conflict include the urgent need for diversification of weapon purchases, maximum possible indigenisation of spares and subsystems to keep Russian-origin equipment serviceable, and, most importantly, staying focused on achieving atmanirbharta (self-reliance) to meet India’s growing defence needs, as previously reported.
Military affairs expert Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia (retd) said: “The government has cleared some key military purchases. This is an indication to the world that India is taking quick strides towards self-reliance in defence, and the domestic industry can meet the needs of the armed forces.” Self-reliance in defence in critical for India’s strategic autonomy, he added.