This year was a great one for India’s defence establishment. The year began on a very powerful note.
That was just the start of a great Indo-US partnership in defence. The rest of the impetus was provided by the PM’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
A new 10-year Defence Framework Agreement was signed between US and India in June.
The agreement will allow the development of a mobile solar energy power source for remote areas besides a special suit for military and civilian purposes for chemical and biological hazard environments.
According to the MoD, 61 companies have obtained 81 Industrial Licences (ILs) for manufacture of various defence equipment since the initiative started.
The FDI in defence was raised to 49 per cent from an earlier 26 per cent to ease indigenization of defence equipment. In fact, indeginsation is the priority for the Defence Minister because he has announced the target of 50 percent indigenisation by 2017.
Manohar Parrikar also achieved two significant milestones. After a prolonged delay, the Indian Government finally gave a nod to the construction of a National War Memorial in Delhi.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar tour the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Defence.gov
During PM Modi’s Russia visit, the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group signed an agreement with Russia’s AlmazAntey to work jointly on a range of air defence missile and radar systems for the Indian defence forces.
In a first since the Bofors deal, the Indian Army got clearance to buy 145 BaE Systems M777 ultra-light howitzers for Rs.2,900 crore through the Foreign Military Sales route from the United States.
Defence Forum India
This year Akash surface-to-air missiles joined the Indian Army. They can target enemy choppers, aircraft and UAVs from a range of 25 km.
That this test was overseen by India’s missile woman Tessy Thomas made for a remarkable story in itself.
A major story this year was how a special Indian Army unit successfully carried out a surgical strike against militants inside Myanmar. By crossing the border this was the first of a kind operation, conducted covertly, by India.
Venkat Rao M
The 126 Rafale fighter deal fell apart. Since the IAF badly needs to fill up its fast depleting squadrons, the GOI agreed to purchase 36 Rafales off-the-shelf from France. The deal will most probably be signed during French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India in January next year.
Indian Defence Research
Another big deal was the $1 billion deal that would see India purchasing 200 Kamov 226 T utility helicopters from Russia. The good news is that the Kamovs will be made in India.
A big disappointment came from HAL, which expressed its inability to manufacture the Tejas Mark 2 version forcing the IAF to purchase 20 basic Mark 1 and 100 improved Mark 1A variants. Though slow progress of manufacturing in HAL remains a concern.
The Indian Navy was the one that gained the maximum teeth this year.
INS Kalvari being undocked. Wikimedia Commons
A Request for Proposal (RFP) was cleared for six more Scorpene submarines under the P75 Project for around Rs.80,000 crore.
This will add to the six that are currently being built at Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Ltd.
INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), went out for sea trials in 2015. The Navy will have this submarine most probably by February next year. Three more Arihant-class subs are being made.
The INS Kochi after its commissioning. Imgur
INS Vikrant during its undocking. Xinhua/Stringer
Progress on EMALS technology and nuclear propulsion for India’s first supercarrier, INS Vishal, is on the right track.
In 2015, infiltration was down to 92 (till September 30) from 264 in 2012 and 221 in 2014.
Overall, it was a great year for Indian Navy, a good year for Army and okay year for the Air Force.