New Delhi: Amid growing challenge from Pakistan and China, India’s armed forces are in dire need of modernisation.
As and when the new government is sworn in, it will have to decide on some of the crucial defence projects.
ThePrint looks at some these projects aimed at boosting India’s military prowess.
Fighter jets for IAF
The Indian Air Force’s effort to enhance its depleting strength of fighter jets still continues.
Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had ordered for 36 Rafale fighter jets, delivery of which will start by September, the fact is that the IAF needs much more.
The IAF has already issued a Request for Information (RFI) for more fighter jets, but is awaiting clearance from the government for its next move — finalising the Air Staff Quality Requirements and a formal tender.
France’s Dassault Aviation, American firm Boeing and Swedish Saab are the front-runners for the IAF’s multi-billion dollar contract for 114 fighter jets. However, the Russians are still in contention with two aircraft, as is US manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Submarines for Navy
The Navy is lagging behind on its submarine construction project — Project 75 India (P75I) — as it is waiting for government clearance and clarity before it sends out a proper tender for it.
The project has been cleared under the strategic partnership model. It envisages the construction of six conventional submarines with better sensors and weapons and the Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP).
P75I is part of the Navy’s 30-year submarine-building plan that will end in 2030. As part of the plan, India was to build 24 submarines — 18 conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) — as an effective deterrent against China and Pakistan.
Former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had said in 2016 that the submarine plan should continue till 2050, and that India should look to build more than 24 such vessels.
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Helicopters for Navy
The new government also needs to fast-track the process to ensure that the Indian Navy gets the helicopters it has been waiting for.
The Navy has, so far, received eight responses to the Expression of Interest (EOI) issued in February as part of its plan to purchase 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) for Rs 21,738 crore.
The NUHs are set to replace the Chetak of 1960s vintage, and are to be utilised for multiple roles, including search and rescue, casualty evacuation and low-intensity maritime operations, besides torpedo drops.
The Navy felt that with changing security dynamics, more reliable twin-engine choppers were needed, which could carry out limited anti-submarine warfare as well.
The Chetak is a single-engine helicopter and is used only when extremely necessary due to risks of flying it over sea.
Fighter jets for Navy
The Indian Navy had last year issued a ‘Request for Information’ seeking response from various manufacturers to equip its aircraft carrier with fighter jets, shelving the original plan to go in for the naval version of the indigenous Tejas.
However, the project is lying dormant ever since. The Navy is also eyeing a third aircraft carrier, but that will take time. But the government needs to take a decision on the aircraft issue and ask the Navy to issue a formal tender.
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It’s a shame that as a journalist in charge of defense issues, you are foaclaisais on the acquisition of material. For my part, as a reader, facing the many acquisitions announced in recent years and especially the last months I asked myself what exactly is the situation on this point. This is important because it has a budgetary impact. But beyond that, we must start with a simple but difficult thing to do: it is to reform the mode of operation of the Ministry of Defense, because it is responsible for promoting the country’s defense policy (the creation a general secretariat in charge of coordinating the various departments of this Ministry, would be a means of retrying the vertical operation of services). We will then have a clear vision of planned acquisitions, acquisitions made, and projects for the future. But who wants to shake this anthill?
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