In anticipation of the austerity measures, Union Defence Minister A K Antony has told the Armed Forces to focus on the purchases and the projects affecting their operational readiness in the remaining part of the fiscal year.
“Everything (Defence Budget cuts) depends on the total financial situation of the government. For ammunition and platforms essential for operational preparedness of the Armed forces, there would not be any cut,” he said.
According to Amit Cowshish, an Additional Secretary in the MoD, the Finance Ministry has been reducing the capital budget at the revised estimate stage based on the pace of expenditure, leaving just about enough funds to meet the expenditure for committed liabilities, as well as a few inescapable contractual payments related to new schemes.
Concurring with Cowshish, Major General (Retd) Mrinal Suman, a military acquisition expert whose views are sought by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence, noted that the budgetary cuts would impact “all acquisitions in the pipeline, as they become easy targets”. Among the critical procurement plans that may be hit if the budget cuts come through are:
Combat planes: Key to bolster the IAF’s falling fighter aircraft squadron numbers (33 of the sanctioned 39.5 squadrons), the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft purchase plans is still under the works, even a dozen years after it was first conceptualised.
Helicopters: The IAF also needs 22 gunships and 15 heavy cargo helicopters, both at a combined cost of `12,000 crore, for whichBoeing has been chosen as the winner for offering its platforms AH-64 Apache and CH-47F Chinook, respectively.
Mountain Corps: The Army has plans to raise a new Mountain Strike Corps for the Eastern sector.