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New Delhi: India procured military hardware worth ₹1.93 lakh crore (almost $24 billion) from abroad in the last five years, which included helicopters, aircraft radars, rockets, guns, assault rifles, missiles and ammunition from countries like US, Russia, France, Israel and Spain, among others.
India has inked 264 capital acquisition contracts for military equipment since 2017-2018, which included 88 deals with foreign vendors accounting for 36% of the total value, junior defence minister Ajay Bhatt told Lok Sabha in a written reply on Friday.
The procurements from foreign vendors was ₹30,677 crore in 2017-18, ₹38,116 crore in 2018-19, ₹40,330 crore in 2019-20, ₹43,916 crore in 2020-21 and ₹40,840 crore in 2021-22. The ₹59,000 crore deal with France for 36 Rafale fighters, which was inked in September 2016, does not figure in this list.
Bhatt, on his part, said, “The Defence Acquisition Procedure-2020 with a focus on `Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and `Make in India’ introduced major policy initiatives for boosting indigenous defence capability and reduction of reliance on imports.”
“Further, DAP-2020 provides the highest preference to Buy Indian (IDDM) category of acquisition and Buy Global is only permitted in exceptional situations with specific approval of the Defence Acquisitions Council or the defence minister,” he added.
In a separate answer, Bhatt said the DRDO is working on 55 `mission mode’ projects at a total sanctioned cost of ₹73,943 crore. These projects are in the areas of nuclear defence technologies, air-independent propulsion (AIP) for submarines, combat suites, torpedoes, fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, gas turbine engine, assault rifles, warheads, light machine guns, rockets, advanced towed artillery gun systems, infantry combat vehicles, surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, anti-airfield weapons and glide bombs.
As reported by TOI earlier, India remains ahead of Russia and the UK as the third largest military spender in the world, but far behind China that spends four times and the US 10 times its defence budget.
The government has taken some steps to get India out of its strategically-vulnerable position as the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for 11% of the global weapons imports. But there is still a long way to go.
DRDO, defence PSUs and ordnance factories need to deliver much better in a cost-effective manner, while a much larger participation from the domestic private sector is required, with global majors setting up production facilities in India.