India has approved spending U.S. $10.18 billion to modernize its military on land, at sea and in the air while boosting the nation’s defense economy with largely domestic investments. Maritime and border security threats have led the nation’s Defence Ministry to procure assets for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
The “unprecedented initiative” will bring new arms and other upgrades after 2030, Defense News magazine reported. More than 97% of the materials and equipment will be made in India, the Defence Ministry said.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) initiative will provide a “substantial boost” to the defense industry to achieve the goal of a self-reliant India, or Atmanirbhar Bharat, the ministry said.
The very short-range air defense (VSHORAD) system is among the allocations for the Indian Army. VSHORAD is a portable surface-to-air missile system that can target planes and helicopters.
“In view of the recent developments along the Northern borders there is a need to focus on effective Air Defence weapon systems which are man portable and can be deployed quickly in rugged terrain and maritime domain,” the Defence Ministry reported in mid-January 2023, an apparent reference to recent clashes between Indian and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) troops in the Himalayas along the disputed Line of Actual Control that separates the countries.
Helina anti-tank guided missiles, launchers and support equipment also were approved and will integrate with an armed version of India’s advanced light helicopter for the Army. (Pictured: An Indian helicopter fires a Helina anti-tank guided missile.)
The DAC also approved buying next-generation missile vessels for the Indian Navy, as well as BrahMos missile launchers and fire control systems for the Shivalik class of frigates. In early December 2022, it approved 10 other acquisitions for the Navy and two for the Coast Guard.
The CCP’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean is among India’s top maritime security concerns, according to the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi think tank. Chinese spy vessels have appeared regularly, most recently in November 2022 when Chinese reconnaissance vessel Yuan Wang 6 entered the Indian Ocean through the Lombok Strait.
Procurement of naval anti-ship missiles, multipurpose vessels and high-endurance autonomous vehicles “will further enhance maritime strength, giving a boost to the Indian Navy’s capabilities,” the Defence Ministry stated.
The acquisition of offshore patrol vessels for the Indian Coast Guard will enhance coastal monitoring, the ministry added.
The offshore patrol vessels can conduct combat tasks, as well maritime zone enforcement, surveillance, and anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations, according to the Centre for Asian Strategic Studies-India in New Delhi.
The DAC also approved six Air Force acquisitions including long-range guided bombs, range augmentation kits for conventional bombs and advanced surveillance systems.
Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.
IMAGE CREDIT: INDIAN DEFENCE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANISATION