NEW DELHI: Several major long-pending defence acquisition proposals have just seen the light with the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, on Saturday giving its nod for projects worth Rs 80,000 crore. The projects include big ticket deal of building six new submarines, over 8,000 anti-tank guided missile systems for the Army and 12 upgraded Dornier surveillance aircraft for the Navy.
Saturday’s DAC meet was Arun Jaitely’s first major meeting with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials after recuperating from illness. The over two-hour meet with Defence Secretary RK Mathur, the chiefs of all three services, DRDO chief and other senior officials was chaired by Jaiteley.
The big ticket step was to give green signal to the request for proposal (RFP) to build six submarines in India at a cost of about Rs 50, 000 crore rather than source it from outside. The Navy’s depleting under water capability has been a major cause of concern for the defence establishment of late, especially after a fatal accident of Kilo class frontline submarine INS Sindhrakshak in August 2013. The Navy has 13 operational submarines and the target set in 1999 is to have 24 by 2030.
The decision to manufacture the submarines in India is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ pitch.
The MoD officials said a committee will be formed by the Ministry to study both public and private shipyards over the next 6-8 weeks. Subsequently, the Ministry will issue an RFP to specific ports that will be identified on the basis of the study which will look into whether they have the capacity and manpower to build six submarines in the same port, besides other parametres.
A naval official told Express that the submarines will have the capacity to be equipped with land attack cruise missile and the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) that will enable them to stay underwater for longer than a conventional submarine, besides having enhanced stealth features.
The DAC also cleared the Army’s proposal to buy third-generation Israeli Spike ATGM systems, including 321 missile launchers, 8,356 missiles and 15 training simulators along with transfer of technology at an estimated cost of Rs 3200 crore. The Army would mount these ATGMS on its infantry combat vehicles. The Government selected Israeli Spike missile over US’ Javelin missile system.
As many as 12 Dornier surveillance aircraft with enhanced sensors will also be bought from the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at a cost of Rs 1,850 crore. The DAC also decided to buy 362 infantry fighting vehicle from the Ordnance Factory Board, Medak in Telangana, for Rs 662 crore.
Besides, the big ticket purchases, the MoD decided to buy 1,761 units radio relay containers at a cost of Rs 662 crore, and 1,768 critical rolling stock - wagons for transport of military equipments at a cost of Rs 740 crore, to be procured from domestic market.