NEW DELHI: Though “Make in India’ became the buzzword of the corridors of the south block, which houses the ministry of defence, but the year of 2014 has been a major boost for defence preparedness as more than Rs. 1.5 lak crore acquisition projects were cleared by the BJP led NDA government in the past six months of its tenure. During AK Antony’s tenure, the process of acquisition was mired with series of bribery allegation, which led to cancellation of various on-going acquisition projects and hit country’s defence preparedness badly.
The year 2004 has been worst on the India-Pakistan border, with over 550 incidents of ceasefire violations have been reported by the Pakistan army. . Exactly 11 years after the peace pact, the Indo-Pak border witnessed the worst such escalation during August to October which left 13 people, including 2 security personnel dead, and thousands displaced in the Jammu sector.
But for the Indian navy, 2014 has been a mix bag, as its chief Admiral DK Joshi quit for taking responsibility of repeated mishaps involving warships. But after that, Indian navy has seen various upward movements like embarking of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the country’s biggest aircraft carrier INS Vikrmaditya and commissioning of various warships and approval of the project to manufacture six submarines under Project 75 India.
Many of the equipment and platforms, cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council, will be manufactured in the country, either by the public or private sector entities, through collaborations and tie-ups with foreign manufacturing companies.
Year of Greater Indigenization and Modernization:
For speedy indigenization, the government increased the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit from 26% to 49% through approval route. Above 49%, the proposal will go to Cabinet Committee on Security on case to case basis. The government also lifted an earlier three year lock-in period for foreign investment in Defence sector. Defence products list for the purpose of industrial licensing has been revised. In the revised list most of the components/parts/raw materials, castings, forgings, production machinery, testing equipment etc. have been taken out of purview of industrial licensing.
Besides, dual use items other than those specifically mentioned in the list would not require industrial license from defence angle. This will reduce the license requirement for many items, which were earlier required industrial license for manufacturing. In order to give a boost to private sector participation in defence production, the Government has decided to replace the present fleet of 56 AVRO Transport of IAF by reserving the project for the private sector only.
The DAC also decided that all the 384 light-utility helicopters needed by the Army and Air Force to replace the existing Cheetah/Chetak fleets will be made in India with foreign collaboration.
But to enhance Indian navy’s depleting underwater capability, on 25 October 2014, the DAC decided to build six submarines in India at a cost of about Rs. 50,000 crore.
For speeding up modernisation programmes, the Government has made a special allocation of Rs. 5000 crores in the current Union Budget. And to encourage research and development of new Defence systems that enhance cutting-edge technology capability in the country, the government has allocated Rs 100 Crores to set up a Technology Development Board.
There were major pending acquisitions in the year including the acquisition of 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from the US, Navy’s proposal to buy 16 multi-role helicopters, which fly from warships and detect enemy submarines. The Defence Acquisition Council also approved the purchase of Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Suites (torpedo decoys and active towed array sonars) to be fitted on seven stealth frigates and four destroyers, which are to be built in India. Besides, a proposals for Rs. 4,444 crore, including the purchase of four survey vessels at Rs. 2,324 crore was also cleared alongwith upgradation of the Mobile Integrated Electronic Warfare System, Samyukta, at a cost of Rs. 1,682 crore.
And for reliable and connectivity, the ministry has also cleared a Rs. 900 crore dedicated mobile communications system for army troops deployed in Ladakh and the Eastern Command.
In attempt to match the infrastructure development with China, the panic stricken defence ministry allocated Rs. 1000 crore in this year’s budget for accelerating the development of railway system in border areas especially facing China. To facilitate quick mobilization of troops and weapons systems, the government also plans to embark on a major road building exercise to counter security threats both along the China borders as well as in Maoist-affected areas within the country.
In order to facilitate this, government relaxed the environment norms to a great extent. Also more financial and operational powers have been delegated to Director General, Border Roads Organisation and his officers for faster implementation of the projects. BRO is developing roads along the 4056 Kms China border from Arunachal Pradesh to Jammu & Kashmir, including widening of some existing roads.
2014 has seen capacity building in the existing and new strategic areas which includes beginning of sea-trials of indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant and the much awaited test flying of LCA (Navy) prototype-I. LCA (Navy), the first indigenously designed and developed 4th plus generation combat aircraft designed to operate from the decks of aircraft carriers, took-off majestically from Ski-Jump facility of Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa in Goa on 20th December 2014. The SBTF created to replicate the aircraft carrier with a Ski Jump for take-off and arresting gear cable for arrested landing, became operational for R&D as well as pilot training.
We can say that the year 2014 has been the year of Indian navy when it comes to self-reliance. To begin with INS Kolkata, an indigenous destroyer built at Mazagaon Dock Limited, Mumbai, the biggest warship ever to be built in India to date, was commissioned by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16 August. INS Kamorta, an ASW corvette built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, Kolkata, was commissioned, in addition to a Offshore Patrol Vessel INS Sumitra built. Moreover, INS Vikramaditya, including its Mig 29K integral fighter aircraft has been inducted into the Navy. Maritime Surveillance Capability of the Navy has been bolstered with the recent induction of Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft P81. Indian Navy’s ability to communicate with deployed ships and submarines on an uninterrupted basis throughout the year got a shot in the arm when a new state of the art “Very Low Frequency (VLF) Transmitting Station” was inaugurated on 31 July, 2014 at INS Kattaboman, Tirunelvelli, Tamil Nadu. India is among a handful of nations in the world that has such a capability.
Two Advanced Early Warning and Combat (AEW&C) aircraft having fitted with the indigenous radars and other equipment such as data links, mission system controller, data handling and display system have been flying.
Successful test trials of surface-to-air Akash missile and induction of its Air Force version into IAF, successful launching of 5000 Km range Agni-5, long range cruise missile Nirbhay, user trials of Prithvi-II, supersonic BrahMos and beyond visual range missile Astra were the hallmarks of this year’s achievement.
With the commissioning of Information Management & Analysis Centre (IMAC) at Gurgaon, costal security has taken a major leap after 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Set up by the defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL) with American software, IMAC will be the nodal centre of the National Command Control Communications and Intelligence Network (NC3I Network), with the aim of improving coastal surveillance and tightening coastal security so as to pre-empt/prevent sea-borne terrorist attacks like 26/11 on Mumbai. The Government’s decision to allocate a sum of Rs. 150 crore for construction of marine police stations and jetties along the vast coast lines is also a positive step in this direction.
Reaching Out to the People in Distress
From actively participating in floods in the Jammu and Kashmir to forest fire in Vishakapatnam and cyclone Hudhud, the tri services i.e. Army, IAF and Navy played a key role in the relief and rescue operations throughout the year.
2014 has seen the worst border with Pakistan since 2003 ceasefire agreement, as more than 550 incidents of the violation of peace pact was carried out by the Pakistan side.
Exactly 11 years after the peace pact, the Indo-Pak border witnessed the worst such escalation during August to October which left 13 people, including 2 security personnel dead, and thousands displaced in the Jammu sector. In fact, on the Line of Actual with China, has also been various incidents of incursions and face-off between the two armies. Joint Exercises and visit of Indian warships on goodwill mission.
The 4th India-China Joint Training Exercise ‘Hand-in-Hand -2014’ held in Pune, Exercise Yudh- Abhyas- The Indo-US Combined Military Training Exercise, Exercise Garuda V-the fifth edition of Indo-French joint Air Exercise, Exercise Avia Indra- Indo-Russia Joint Air Force Exercise, were some of the major military exercises with Indian army participated.
Even the Indian navy did SIMBEX, Exercise Komodo, Tropex, Rimpac, Malabar and International fleet review etc.
Digitization of Records
Digitization of records in History Division, Ministry of Defence is in progress. The work is likely to be completed by December, 2016. Likewise digitization of files/records relating to Defence land is also in progress and the same is likely to be completed by March, 2015.
An on-line system, e-Samiksha for monitoring of follow-up action on the decisions taken during the presentations made by different Ministries/Departments to the Prime Minister, decisions taken during Committee of Secretaries meetings, Center-State coordination issues, progress of Court cases pending before various Courts/Tribunals in which Cabinet Secretary is a respondent either directly or in the form of a pro-forma party etc. has been launched by Cabinet Secretariat. The same is being monitored regularly for issues related to this Ministry.