Since the start of this century, Indian Armed Forces is been looking for some major defence deals. The deals and projects were proposed to strengthen the inventory. Many projects for Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Indian Army are pending and could not find a way to get priority in the government’s eyes. Some of the projects were started with the cooperation of international companies and governments and even got a start, but did not get the required or needed completion. Some of them are in their ongoing stages and the government is working on them.
However, many projects in the last five-six years have gotten a boost. Projects that were on the paper only during previous governments, have been started well by the new governments. These defence deals are important for our military to keep ourselves technologically advanced enough to tackle any situation.
Here is the list of some projects that have been pending since years:-
Fighter Jets for Indian Air Force
At the start of this century, IAF was in need of fighter jets in large number to increase their inventory. In 2001, Indian Air Force started the process of induction of new aircrafts. The idea was to manufacture French Aircraft Mirage 2000 in India. That would have provided employment to many workers as well as IAF could get aircrafts on their own terms. However, the plan shifted to Rafale fighters. Around 2004, India decided to launch a global platform for the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) rather than manufacture the Mirage 2000. It was only in 2007 that a global Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued, in which the Rafale emerged as the winner in 2012.
However, the government has succeeded in bringing 36 Rafale fighter jets to India; the original plan to manufacture aircrafts in India itself is still pending.
Project P75I: Six Conventional Submarines
In this project, Indian Navy was to get six diesel electric submarines with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system. In 2007, the defence ministry sanctioned the project but it has not reached much far yet. However, On 21 January 2020, the Government of India shortlisted Larsen & Toubro and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders as the two Indian firms. There were five foreign manufacturers too, shortlisted by the government. The two Indian firms thus selected would have to tie up with one of the five foreign firms for the project.
Light Utility Helicopters – Kamov
Indian Armed Forces were in need of Light Utility Helicopters. Hence, the government announced a deal for 200 Kamov 226T choppers. India is procuring the Kamov choppers to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. The deal was made in 2015, but now it seems that the final decisions will be completed by 2025. Under the deal, India will get 60 helicopters in fly-away condition and 140 will be manufactured in India. The deal will cost around 1 billion dollars.
Assault Rifles For Indian Armed Forces
Assault rifles are very important for Indian Armed Forces as we are struggling to replace INSAS rifles for over two decades. This was a mega deal. It started its process in 2018. But, the deal is incomplete as of now. This delay has forced the Indian Army to use SIG-716 rifles of US. Army already have 72000 of these rifles and is looking forward to order the same number again as emergency. However, a company by the name, Indo-Russia Rifles Private Limited, which is the partnership between the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the Kalashnikov Concern and Rosoboronexport (the Russian state agency for military exports), has offered AK 203 Rifles. But, it had failed to do so. As a result, Indian Armed Forces is still looking for modern assault rifles.
Naval Utility Helicopters
This is another defence project, which is important for Indian Navy. These helicopters could improve the fleet of Navy. Therefore, government need to shift its focus on this. It is a big challenge also because Hindustan Aeronautics Limited wants to take part in the competition while Navy is against that. These helicopters will replace the Navy’s Chetak Helicopters.
C295 transport aircraft
In 2015, Indian Air force planned to buy 56 C295 transport aircrafts. The Defence Acquisition Council had cleared that deal too, but the contract is yet to be signed.
C295 is a multi-role transport aircraft that can carry a maximum payload of 9.25 tones. The Air Force selected this aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of Avro 748 transport aircraft. Under the deal, Airbus facility in Spain will provide 16 aircrafts to India and the Tata Advanced Systems Limited will complete the remaining ones.
Mine Counter-Measure Vessels
A Mine counter measure vessel is a naval ship used for destruction of naval mines. In this project, Defence Ministry nominated Goa Shipyard and a South Korean firm to construct 12 mine counter measure vessels. The contract is estimated to cost over Rs. 30000 Crores. This project has been delayed many years as the Indian Navy has been looking for these type of vessels since 2005.
We hope that these projects will be completed soon as the government understands the importance of modernization in military. The defence ministry has been active in completing these deals by finding appropriate contractors and firms domestically and internationally. Indian Armed Forces need these projects to be completed to strengthen the present inventory. These projects will also help in replacing old technology and hence contribute in modernization of overall military.