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R-Day 2024: From first twin seater Tejas to record increase in defence capital budget: India’s ‘Atmanirbharta in Defence’

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As the world’s largest Democracy celebrate its 75th Republic Day on Friday, here are the things that showcase India’s ‘Atmanirbharta in Defence’ sector.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the allocation of record 75 per cent (approximately Rs one lakh crore) of the defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in FY 2023-24, a sizeable jump from 68 per cent in 2022-23.

The Defence Minister also released the Fifth Positive Indigenisation List (PIL) of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) comprising 98 items, during the plenary session of ‘Swavlamban 2.0’.

The list includes highly complex systems, sensors, weapons and ammunition to be procured from indigenous sources as per the provisions given in Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 in a staggered timeline.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the first twin-seater Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October 2023, in the presence of Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt realising the vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

It is a Twin-Seater Light Combat Fighter aircraft designed, developed and manufactured by HAL in Bengaluru.Herein, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Tejas Sortie in November was a major milestone as it was the first time an Indian Prime Minister flew a fighter aircraft sortie. During the 30-minute sortie, capabilities of Tejas were demonstrated to the PM.Notably, to enhance the operational preparedness of the Armed Forces, Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Rajnath Singh, approved in its meetings proposals worth a total of over Rs 3.50 lakh crore.

In a meeting held in November, DAC accorded approval in respect of Acceptance of Necessity (AoNs) for various Capital Acquisition Proposals amounting to its 2.23 lakh crore, of which the acquisition worth 2.20 lakh crore (98% of total AoN amount) will be sourced from domestic industries.

Numerous projects for modernisation and increasing the lethality of the Armed Forces to include procurements of 26 Rafale marine Aircrafts, 16 Sky Guardians, 15 Sea Guardians, HALE, RPAS, HELINA ATGMS, Dhruvastra, Su-30 MKIs, HTT40 basic trainer aircrafts, Cadet Training Ships, improved Akash weapon System, offshore Patrol and Missile Vessels, Fleet Support Ships, IN Shankush medium rafts, Upgraded Dornier Aircrafts for Indian Coast Guard and contracts with BEL such as Project Akashteer and Sarang are being undertaken to name a few.

Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Tableau and Equipment will be showcased during the parade on Friday. As an enabler of ‘Aatmanirbharta’, the valuable contribution of women scientists of DRDO in core areas of Defence Research has been significant.

The DRDO tableau is based on the theme ‘Women power in protecting the nation by providing the defence shield in all 5 dimensions namely Land, Air, Sea, Cyber, and Space’.

Scientist Sunita Devi Jena will be the Contingent Commander, with P Laxmi Madhavi, J Sujana Choudhary and A Bhuvaneswari also present on the tableau.

The tableau displays Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile (MPATGM), Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile, Agni-5, Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile, Very Short Range Air Defence System (VSHORADS), Naval Anti-Ship Missile-Short Range (NASM-SR), Anti-Tank Guided Missile ‘HELINA’, Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM), Astra, Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’, ‘Uttam’ Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESAR), Advanced Electronic Warfare System ‘Shakti’, Cyber Security systems, Command Control Systems and the Semi-Conductor Fabrication Facility.

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