Defence ministry ratifies Rs 16,000-crore weapon acquisition plan

PTI2_8_2018_000113B (File) Defence Minister Nirmla Sitharaman

In an attempt to equip infantry soldiers deployed on the border, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman-led acquisition body on Tuesday approved procurement of weapons worth close to Rs.16,000 crore.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)—the highest body for military acquisition—headed by the defence minister, accorded approval to capital acquisition proposals for assault rifles, light machine guns and sniper rifles. Indian Army has been trying to replace its glitch-prone INSAAS rifles for its soldiers for many years.

While giving its approval for procurement of 7.4 lakh assault rifles for the three Services, DAC also cleared procurement of essential quantity of light machine guns.

"Assault Rifles will be ‘Made in India’ under the categorisation of 'Buy and Make (Indian)', through both ordnance factory board and private industry at an estimated cost of Rs 12,280 crore," said the ministry in its statement. The light machine guns will procured through the fast track procedure at an estimated cost of over Rs 1,819 crore. This procurement will meet the operational requirement of the troops, deployed on the borders. A concurrent proposal is being processed for the balance quantity to be procured under the 'Buy and Make (Indian)' categorisation.

In the last one month, to equip soldiers on the border with modern and more effective equipment, the DAC has fast tracked procurement of the three main personal weapons—rifles, carbines and light machine guns.

For giving sharper edge to the soldiers deployed on the border, DAC also approved procurement of 5,719 sniper rifles for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force at an estimated cost of Rs 982 crore. While these high precision weapons will be bought with ‘Buy Global’ categorisation, the ammunition for these will be initially procured and subsequently manufactured in India.

Meanwhile, to enhance the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of Indian Naval Ships, the DAC accorded approval for the procurement of Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems (ATDS) for the Indian Navy.

"The 'Mareech' system has been developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation and has successfully completed extensive trial evaluations. The 'Mareech' systems will be produced by Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru at an estimated cost of Rs 850 crore," according to the ministry statement.

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