Money allocated for modernization of the Indian Armed Forces has fallen short of requirement during fiscal 2014-15.
According to figures presented before the Indian parliament earlier this week, the projections for the army, navy and air force are INR 33,167.15 cr ($5.3 billion), INR 26,238.08 cr ($4.2 billion) and INR59,606.89 cr ($9.6 billion) respectively which total to INR 1,19,012 cr ($19.2 billion).
Whereas the actual allocation is only a total of INR 75,148.03 cr ($12 billion) with the army receiving INR 20,935.41 ($3.3 billion), leaving the navy with INR 22,394.23 cr ($3.6 billion) and the air force received RsINR 31,818.39 cr ($5.1 million).
Simply put, the Indian armed forces received $8 billion less than the projection for modernization and weapons procurement.
The Army has an urgent requirement for artillery guns for which the Defense Acquisition Council recently cleared a proposal to procure 814 artillery guns worth $2.5 billion. The infantry’s F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier as a System) project has also fallen behind. According to local media reports, eight to 10 infantry battalions are likely to be equipped with the F-INSAS system by 2015. All infantrymen are set to be covered by this system by 2020. Armoured vehicles programs too are behind schedules
The Navy is facing similar delays in procurement particularly after the Defense Ministry reportedly cancelled another light utility helicopter (LUH) global tender in October. Another deal, for the purchase of 90 multi-role helicopters worth an estimated $2.5 billion too could be in trouble. A first order of 16 helicopters, for which NH Industries and Sikorksy are bidding, has not gone past the technical evaluation stage.
The MMRCA is currently the Air Force’s biggest hurdle. The deal has been under negotiations for nearly two years since Dassault won the deal in 2012. However, both India and France say the deal could be finalized by March 2015.
The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the futuristic Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) are also struggling to meet deadlines. The IAF currently maintains 34 squadrons which is the bare minimum.
“The Government constantly reviews the security scenario and accordingly decides to induct appropriate defence weapons and equipment. Modernisation of defence forces is a continuous process based on threat perception, operational challenges, technological changes and available resources,” Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Parliament earlier this week.
“The process is based on a 15 year Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP), five year Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP) and Annual Acquisition Plan (AAP). Procurement of equipment and weapon systems is carried out as per the AAP in accordance with the Defence Procurement Procedure,” he added.
In his first meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar raised the MMRCA deal with Dassault and said it would be "resolved in a fast-tracked manner". This is the second visit to India by the French defense minister in the past six months and the first since Manohar Parrikar became the defense minister
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