New Delhi: In a boost to the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence Thursday cleared the purchase of 21 MiG-29 and 12 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft, besides 248 indigenous long-range air to air missiles, Astra, among others.
In total, the ministry cleared the purchase of platforms and equipment for the armed forces to the tune of Rs 38,900 crore. It has also approved the upgrade of the existing 59 MiG-29 aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The approvals by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh come amid the two-month military standoff with China at multiple points along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.
Of the 248 indigenous Astra missiles, 200 is for the Air Force, and 48 for the Navy, and the estimated cost of their procurement is Rs 2,700 crore, sources said.
According to the ministry, the MiG-29 procurement and upgrade from Russia is estimated to cost Rs 7,418 crore. The Sukhoi-30 MKI will be procured from the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at an estimated cost of Rs 10,730 crore.
The approvals would also address the long-felt need of the IAF to increase its fighter squadrons, the defence ministry said in a statement.
Currently, the IAF has 30 active fighter squadrons of a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons. Air Chief Marshal R.K. Bhadauria in an interview to ThePrint in May had said the depletion will be offset by deliveries of Rafale from France and the indigenous LCA MK IA, while a follow-up acquisition plan will start to recover the overall squadron strength.
The IAF would order Light Combat Aircraft (LAC) Tejas MK IA soon and expects deliveries to commence in three years, even as at least four Rafale fighter jets of the total 36 bought by India are scheduled to land in Ambala on 27 July.
Indigenous acquisition of over Rs 30,000 crore
Stating that the approvals are in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call for ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’, the defence ministry said much of these approvals include indigenous acquisition to the tune of Rs 31,130 crore.
It said the equipment to be manufactured in India involves the Indian defence industry with participation of several MSMEs as prime tier vendors, emphasising that the indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80 per cent of the project cost.
“A large number of these projects have been made possible due to Transfer of Technology by DRDO to the indigenous industry. These include Pinaka ammunition, BMP armament upgrades and Software Defined Radios (SDR) for the Army, Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile Systems (a derivative of Nirbhay missiles) and Astra Missiles for Navy and Air Force,” the ministry said, adding that the cost of these design and development proposals is in the range of Rs 20,400 crore.
Pinaka is an all-weather, indirect fire, free flight artillery rocket system and consists of a rocket, multi-barrel rocket launcher, battery command post, loader-cum-replenishment vehicle, and digicora MET radar.
SDR is a secure indigenous system with legacy communication support and secure digital voice/data communication.
Astra missiles induction a ‘force-multiplier’
The ministry said the acquisition of new missile systems such as the Pinaka will enable raising additional regiments above the ones inducted.
The procurement of Long Range Land Attack Missile Systems having a firing range of 1,000 km and the induction of Astra missiles having Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capability will serve as a “force multiplier” and add to the strike capability of the Navy and Air Force.
ASTRA is a BVR class of Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) system designed to be mounted on fighter aircraft. The missile is designed to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aircraft.
The ASTRA MK-I Weapon System integrated with Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft is being inducted into the IAF.