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From choppers to missiles, Modi govt cuts defence foreign shopping list, favours Make in India

Defence Acquisition Council meeting chaired by Rajnath Singh puts emphasis on indigenous products. Foreign firms can tie up with Indian companies to produce for global market.

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New Delhi: In a major move towards indigenisation, the government Friday scrapped some major defence procurements from abroad, including helicopters for the Coast Guard, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and short range missiles, among others, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that the issue of procurement under Buy (Global) category came up for discussion during the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Under the Buy (Global) category, procurement is done directly from the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

The sources said the decision taken Friday will not impact deals already inked under the Buy (Global) route, those being pursued under the government-to-government route and the Foreign Military sales (FMS) route with the US.

They also said that foreign OEMs are now welcome to tie up with Indian firms or set up their own factories to not only supply the Indian military but also for other countries.

Sources said the defence services were earlier asked to prepare a list of procurement plans from abroad that could be replaced by indigenous items.

Accordingly, each service — Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard — had come forward with a list of such items.

Also read: Scrap L1 concept for procurement, need revolution in bureaucratic affairs, Army chief says

The items in question

One mega deal in this list was the procurement of 14 twin-engine helicopters, for which French firm Airbus was the prime contender.

Sources said a decision has been taken to shelve this project in favour of the naval utility helicopter (NUH) of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

However, it was not immediately clear what happened to the $3 billion project of the Navy to procure 111 new helicopters of the same class (that is, NUHs).

Sources said there would be another meeting soon which will look into more projects but emphasised that the directive is very clear that indigenous products should be preferred.

Talking about other procurement projects that have been shelved, the sources said the Army will now go in for indigenous ATVs that will come handy in both the desert and mountains.

Sources also said a project to acquire short range missiles from abroad has also been shelved in favour of the Make in India route.

Push for Make in India

Sources explained that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh have been emphasising on indigenous defence products.

They said these issues came up for discussion multiple times and the forces were also amenable to this, since alternate items were already available domestically and foreign companies were willing to set up facilities in the country.

ThePrint had earlier reported that Singh, in his talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, made it clear that the way forward was Make in India.

Similarly, during his meeting with French Defence Minister Florence Parly, Singh had called on French firms to “either collaborate with Indian companies or simply produce in India”.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: India’s defence procurement must be driven by investment in emerging tech. CDS taking lead


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