Amid LAC stand-off, Rajnath approves acquisition of 33 fighter jets, missiles
Amid volatile situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday approved defence deals worth over Rs 38,900 crore. They include acquisition of 33 frontline fighter jets besides missiles and ammunition.
The approvals for procuring 12 SU-30 and 21 MIG-29 fighter jets come a week after Rajnath’s visit to Russia for the Victory Day Parade there. He had held discussion with top Russian defence leadership on ensuring time-bound delivery of weapon systems and defence co-operation.
The fighter deals also include upgradation of 59 existing MIG-29 jets. Other deals include Pinaka missile system ammunition, armoured vehicle BMP armament upgrades, Software Defined Radio (SDR) for the Army, long-range land attack cruise missile systems of over 1,000 km range, and Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles for the Navy and Air Force. All of these will be procured domestically and worth an estimated Rs 31,130 crore.
“While the MIG-29 procurement and upgradation from Russia is estimated to cost Rs 7,418 crore, the SU-30 MKI will be procured from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at an estimated cost of Rs 10,730 crore,” Defence Ministry officials said.
These inductions, likely to take over the next two to three years, will shore up the squadron strength of the IAF’s fighter fleet.
The 21 MIG-29s have already been partially manufactured by Russia in the past for an unfulfilled order and will now be upgraded and delivered to India. These will add to the three MIG-29 squadrons in service with the IAF which are already undergoing an upgrade. One squadron has 18-20 jets.
The 12 SU-30 MKIs are meant to replace the aircraft that have crashed over the years. India has in different batches contracted 272 SU-30 jets from Russia, majority of which have been licence manufactured by HAL in India.
The IAF has currently 30 fighter squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons. It will start adding the first batch of Rafale multi-role jets this month end. Another deal for 83 Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A estimated to cost Rs 38,000 crore is expected to be signed in the next two months.
Meanwhile, giving details about the other deals given the go-ahead, officials said weapon systems and equipment will be manufactured in India involving Indian defence industry with participation of several Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
“The Indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80 per cent of the project cost. A large number of these projects have been made possible due to Transfer of Technology by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to the indigenous industry,” the Defence Ministry statement said.
These include Pinaka Multi-barrel Rocket Launch System ammunition, BMP armament upgrades and SDRs, Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile Systems and Astra Missiles. The cost of these design and development proposals is in the range of Rs 20,400 crore, it stated.
On the missile systems, officials said acquisition of Pinaka missile systems will enable raising additional regiments over and above the ones already inducted by the Army.
Addition of Long Range Land Attack Missile Systems having a firing range of 1,000 km to the existing arsenal will bolster the attack capabilities of the Navy and the Air Force, it added. Nirbhay, a long range land attack cruise missile with a range of over 1,000 km has under development by DRDO for some time. It is equivalent to the Tomahawk cruise missile of the US.
The IAF has expressed satisfaction on the performance of the Astra BVR and is currently inducting the Astra Mk-I on the Sukhoi fleet. It is also keen on the Astra Mk-II variant being development by the DRDO.
Friday, 03 July 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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