There’s nothing like a border clash with a superpower to spark the purchase of new weapons for defense.
After tense clashes between Indian and Chinese troops, it appears that India has accelerated the domestic and foreign purchase of arms, sharpening the spear in just about every military sector, according to a report by Vivek Raghuvanshi of Defense News.
Sino-Indo relations are suffering after a skirmish with Chinese troops on June 15 in Galwan Valley. India said 20 of its soldiers were killed, as were Chinese soldiers.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Friday approved a collection of arms procurement projects worth US$5.55 billion, including domestic efforts worth US$4.44 billion, Defense News reported.
“In the current situation and the need to strengthen the armed forces for the defence of our borders, and in line with our Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ [self-sufficient India], the DAC, in its meeting of July 2 held under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accorded approval for capital acquisitions of various platforms and equipment required by the Indian armed forces. Proposals for an approximate cost of $5.55 billion were approved,” the MoD said in a statement.
Under the approval, India will upgrade 59 of its MiG-29 aircraft and buy 21 more from Russia for about US$1 billion. In addition, India will order 12 Russian-made Su-30MKI fighters from the local state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for US$1.53 billion, Defense News reported.
The government has also approved several indigenous development programs, including ammunition for Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers; an armaments upgrade of BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles; software-defined radios; Nirbhay land-attack cruise missiles; and Astra beyond-visual-range missiles.
The government also approved the emergency purchase of Excalibur artillery rounds for M777 ultralight howitzers from the United States, Igla-S air defense systems from Russia and Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel, Defense News reported.
It’s also granted special financial powers that comes with a ceiling of US$71.42 million to rapidly buy weapons, Defense News reported. But these fast-track purchasing programs will still involve a multi-vendor competition.
Twenty-five of these procurement programs are for the Army and the Air Force; 10 are for the Navy. The Army is likely to buy ammunition for its T-90 tanks, BMP-2 vehicles, air defense guns, artillery guns and small arms, as well as rockets, missiles and mortars.
The Air Force is likely to buy air-to-air missiles, air to-ground missiles, smart bombs and precision-guided munitions, Defense News reported.
As part of the procurement effort, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar visited Moscow from June 22-25 and met with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov and chief of Rosoboronexport Alexander Mikheev.
An MoD official said India requested the immediate supply of spare parts for Su-30MKI fighters, Kilo-class submarines and T-90 tanks, as well as the emergency purchase of missiles and specialized ammunition for Russian-origin fighter jets, tanks, warships and submarines.
While both nations are extolling peaceful negotiations over the ongoing border issue, make no mistake, India is not taking chances — they are arming themselves to the teeth.