Indian Armed Forces are set to get more firepower as the Modi government is likely to clear big ticket defence deals worth over Rs 70,000 crore.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, will meet on June 25 to clear these deals, including a proposal to purchase the 155mm M777 ultra-light howitzer (ULH, armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), an advanced air defence system, and carbines for the Army. It will also discuss the issue of having the ‘midget’ submarines used for special operations under the sea.
Indian defence forces are eagerly looking forward to these purchases, several of which have not moved for over a year due to differences within the ministry.
The deal for the supply of 145 M777 howitzers to the Indian army, the first new artillery guns after the Bofors scandal, is complete with BAE and is expected to cost between $725 million and $740 million. The BAE has further tied up with Mahindra to make 50 per cent of the guns in India.
The gun, with a strike range of 25 km, will form the backbone of the Mountain Strike Corps, being raised by the government for the mountainous borders with China. Made of titanium, each gun weighs 4,000 kg. The 155mm Ultra-Light Howitzer (ULH) can be airlifted by CH-47 Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemaster and the C-130 Hercules aircraft or by trucks to ensure increased mobility in the mountains.
A Chinook helicopter lifts a M777 ultralight gun for deployment in mountains. ajaishukla
A domestic assembly, integration and test facility will enable the Indian Army to access maintenance, spares and support for the M777 locally. Last December, the council gave a formal approval for the deal.
The bulk production clearance for Dhanush, an upgraded version of Bofors guns developed indigenously under the transfer of technology, may also be part of the heavy agenda of DAC.
The government would also be looking to acquire S-400 Triumph missile systems from Russia at the cost of Rs 38,000 crore.
In case of the warships, the Navy will be looking for six missile carrying vessels under the ‘Buy Indian’ category that will replace the 1980’s design Soviet-era ships of this type. These will carry the BrahMos, surface-to-air missiles, medium-range guns, and close-in weapons systems. It will cost Rs 13,000 crore.
The DAC will also look at a proposal for deployment of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile systems on Delhi and Talwar class destroyers.In all six missile systems, one each for three Delhi class and one each for Talwar class is to be procured at a cost of Rs 3000 crore.
A proposal will also come up to buy two underwater Special Operation Vehicles with six Support Diving Vessels, which are used by the Marcos commandos of the Indian Navy to carry out special operations under the sea surface. It is likely to cost Rs 2000 crore.
The Navy has also projected a requirement of five Diving Support Ships. “These small boats are expected to cost Rs 150 crore. The DAC will also decide on buying 44,000 automatic hand-held carbines for the Army. An Israeli company has emerged as the top bidder following trials.