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MoD approves 12 more Sukhois, 800 armoured vehicles & others for Rs 45,000 crore


NEW DELHI: India on Friday gave the preliminary nod for nine capital acquisition projects worth Rs 45,000 crore for the armed forces, including 12 more Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets, five next-generation naval survey vessels, around 800 light armoured multi-purpose vehicles and over 200 Dhruvastra anti-tank guided missiles.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, while chairing the high-powered Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) meeting, also directed the top military brass and bureaucrats to work towards ensuring a minimum of 60-65% indigenous content for IDDM (indigenously designed, developed and manufactured) projects, instead of the existing threshold of 50%, in consultation with the Indian industry.
The major takeaway, of course, was the grant of “acceptance of necessity (AoN)” for the long-pending procurement of 12 Sukhoi-30MKI fighters for the IAF.
The IAF currently has 260 of the 272 twin-seat Sukhois, which constitute the backbone of its combat fleet, with the bulk of them being licensed produced by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) at an overall cost upwards of $12 billion from Russia.
The 12 new Sukhois, which will be built by HAL to replace the ones that have crashed, and their associated equipment will cost around Rs 11,500 crore. The decision comes at a time when a major upgrade of the entire Sukhoi fleet, with new indigenous weapons, electronic warfare systems and sensors, is also on the anvil.
The other proposals cleared by the DAC will also be from Indian vendors, officials said. It includes the procurement of around 800 light armoured multi-purpose vehicles and integrated surveillance and targeting systems for almost Rs 2,000 crore to enhance protection, mobility, attack capability and increased survivability of the Army’s mechanised forces. The AoN was also accorded for procurement of high-mobility gun-towing vehicles for swift mobilisation and deployment of howitzers and radars.
The Navy, in turn, will get five next-generation survey vessels to “greatly enhance” its capabilities for hydrographic operations for around Rs 3,300 crore, an official said.
For the IAF, the AoN was also granted for the procurement of over 200 Dhruvastra short range air-to-surface missiles, which have a maximum 8-km strike range, to equip Dhruv Mark-4 advanced light helicopters at a cost of around Rs 700 crore. Then, there was the AoN for the avionics upgrade of the Dornier-228 aircraft fleet.
The nod for the 12 new Sukhois comes at a time when the IAF is grappling with just 31 fighter squadrons, which include three old MiG-21 Bison squadrons that have to be retired soon, when at least 42 are needed for the “collusive threat” from China and Pakistan
As was reported by TOI last month, the IAF now plans to order around 100 more Tejas Mark-1A jets to meet the existing shortfall till a much more powerful and capable version of the indigenous fighter is operationally ready.
The 100 Tejas Mark-1A jets will add to the 73 such jets and 10 trainers already ordered under the Rs 46,898 core contract inked with HAL in February 2021. These 83 jets, powered by the American GE-404 engines, have to be delivered by HAL in the February 2024-February 2028 timeframe.
The Tejas Mark-2 jets, with the GE-414 engines in the 98 Kilonewton thrust class power under the recent pact inked with the US for 80% transfer of technology, will be ready for production only by 2030-2031.


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