India procures billions of rupees modern weaponry

by Tauqeer Abbas
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Shafaqna Pakistan: Narendra Modi-led Indian government is bent upon building up arms and ammunition in the region as the defence ministry of India has inked contracts amounting to billions of rupees in a month to procure drones, loitering munitions, counter-drone systems and special sights.

According to a report carried by the Indian media, the Modi government has ventured into fast-track military buying by keeping aside the traditional system in place for procurements.

In order to execute the long pending deal with Russia to jointly manufacture sophisticated AK-203 rifles in India, a non-conventional approach is being attempted.

The report revealed that over the last one month a number of contracts have been inked by the defence ministry under the fast track procurement regime as part of the much-needed modernisation of the three services. Most of these contracts are for drones, loitering munitions, counter-drone systems and special sights as each valuing between Rs1 billion and Rs1.5 billion.

Though the cost involved is not huge, considering the billion-dollar deals that the defence industry is known for, these contracts bring about a change, not just because they have been inked faster but also because they are the starting point for the introduction of niche technology for modern warfare.

Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has cleared $3 billion deal for procuring 56 C-295MW transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The aircraft will be manufactured in India jointly by Airbus and Tata, and will replace 60-year-old IAF fleet of Avro 748 transport aircraft.

Besides, S-400 air defence system from Russia and Rafale from France have been purchased through out-of-box thinking. This procurement fashion bypassed the conventional process of issuing Requests for Proposals (RFP), conducting trials, cost negotiation and finally contract signing.

In addition, the deals for S-400, Rafale and C-295 were also unconventional. As for C-295, it will be the first time when local private industry will be manufacturing a military plane in India. The fact that the cost negotiations committee (CNC) was headed by an IAF officer, unlike a bureaucrat from the defence ministry, also added to the uniqueness of the deal.

Similarly, the CNCs for both S-400 and Rafale were also led by the IAF officers. Since the officers knew the technicalities of the system, the decisions were taken on faster pace.

With the original procurement process hanging in balance, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to go for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets rather than just waiting endlessly for the bigger deal to happen.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army has expressed concern about the quality and delivery of products from the Indian ordnance factories and for the first time in decades, the government has started appointing uniformed military officers as CEO of the factories. In a recent development, Major General Sanjeev Sengar has been appointed as CEO of the rifle factory in Amethi for four years.

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