Indian weapons buyer approves $10B fund to equip military

NEW DELHI – India’s arms buyer on Thursday approved a budget of 843.28 billion rupees ($10.18 billion) to buy major weapons and platforms, most of which the government will spend locally in a bid to bolster the domestic defense manufacturing sector.

The Ministry of Defense said in a statement that its Defense Acquisition Council has supported the proposal called acceptance of need, which will account for about 97.4% of the funds that will be used to acquire indigenous material. This type of proposal is the first stage in the purchase of weapons, according to government regulations.

“This unprecedented initiative will not only modernize the armed forces but also give a major boost to the defense industry to achieve the goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or a self-reliant India,” the ministry said.

The government is expected to issue fresh tenders, followed by selection of bidders, field testing of prototypes and existing systems, and finally contract award. The induction of new weapons would start from 2030 onwards.

Under this latest budget, India is looking for light tanks, mounted weapon systems, ballistic helmets for infantry troops and so-called futuristic infantry fighting vehicles, the ministry said. The Army estimates that it needs a total of 1,750 futuristic infantry fighting vehicles, 350 light tanks and 800 mounted gun systems.

No local Indian company has ever built tanks, futuristic infantry fighting vehicles or 155mm/52 caliber gun systems with fully indigenous technology.

The Indian Air Force is looking for next-generation anti-radiation air-to-surface missiles, long-range guided bombs, conventional bomb range enhancement kits and advanced surveillance systems.

The Defense Acquisition Council also approved new naval programs for anti-ship missiles, autonomous underwater vehicles and multipurpose vessels.

The agency also agreed to procure an unspecified quantity of fully indigenous next-generation offshore patrol vessels for the Coast Guard.

In the fiscal year 2021-2022, India purchased 702.21 billion rupees worth of locally made armaments from domestic defense contractors. In the financial year 2022-2023, India has spent about 845.98 billion rupees on local materials.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is India’s Defense News Correspondent.

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