New Delhi: A special session of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) Wednesday empowered the armed forces to go ahead with Rs 300 crore worth of capital acquisitions to meet emergent operational requirements, even as the military has been on a shopping spree over the past few weeks.
The move, which comes amid tensions between India and China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), gives the armed forces unprecedented emergency powers under the capital budget, which is for purchases of new equipment and systems. It is expected to ease some of the bottlenecks that mar defence acquisitions.
So far, the forces have, from time to time, been given a Rs 500-crore limit per project under the revenue head, which deals with reordering of existing systems and ammunition. This power, for example, was allowed after the 2016 Uri attack, and in June this year in light of the LAC situation.
Procurements under the capital budget are a long-drawn process that requires multiple trials and long procedures even if fast-tracked.
Announcing the new provision, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said it will shrink procurement timelines, ensure speedy placement of orders, and start deliveries within one year.
Several procurements on the horizon
Amid the ongoing tensions with China, the Indian military has been on a shopping spree, with a number of projects being pushed under the emergency procurement provision. These include assault rifles, anti-tank guided missiles, ammunition, high-altitude clothing, bombs, drones, etc.
Sources said the armed forces are already in the midst of pursuing different manner of procurements from the US, Russia, Israel, France and some other countries.
Asked how much money is being spent in these fast-tracked emergency purchases, sources said it was easily over $1 billion (Rs 7,513 crore).
The procurements — some of which have been inked while others are in the final stages — included armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) ammunition fired by the T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks, additional Heron drones, loitering munition, Spice Bombs, and Man Portable Air Defence System (MANPADS).
The procurement of 72,000 additional SiG 716 battle rifles has also been pushed ahead keeping the situation at the LAC in mind, sources said.
Each of the three services has prepared a list of items that they are looking to procure under the emergency clause. Sources said Russia, France and Israel have already assured timely delivery of items.
France had even diverted missiles meant for its own force to India to enable faster deployment of the Rafale fighters jets, which will arrive in India later this month.
This report has been updated to correct a typo