In the next few years, India would completely do away with all kinds of weapons imports and substitute them with Made –In – India systems

In February 2014, when UPA Defence Minister AK Anthony was asked about the much-awaited procurement of Rafale fighter planes under the MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) deal that was pending for years, he stated that there was no money left in that fiscal year for the same. Yet it was not just the Rafale deal. A series of critical defence deals were kept pending by UPA. Every year during UPA rule, it used to be the same saga with very little having been done to procure modern offensive platforms to augment the combat capability of the Indian Armed Forces.

Across the spectrum of the Indian Army, reeling under severe obsolescence of its air defence systems and artillery, underperforming rifles like INSAS, lack of an adequate number of bulletproof jackets, to Indian Air Force grappling with depleting strength of combat jets and scant progress of the TEJAS project, to Indian Navy facing the heat from a series of accidents, the saga was almost the same. Yet, little was done during the UPA rule to address these issues.

A New Dawn From May 2014

Yet surprisingly, when Modi Government took over the mantle in May 2014, since then money has never been a problem when it came to the military modernisation of the Indian Armed Forces that had remained literally stalled for almost a decade since 2004. However, India’s geopolitical landscape was changing fast with adversaries in the neighbourhood being busy shoring up their capabilities by leaps and bounds and the task for Modi Government was cut out.

Just after the Modi era started, India witnessed the keel laying of its first missile tracking and ocean surveillance ship. In a few years’ time, the 15,000-ton ship named as INS Dhruv was commissioned. This was followed by Modi Government giving a nod, in 2015, to seven stealth frigates under Project 17A and six nuclear-powered attack submarines.

In the same very year, Modi Government signed critical defence deals with the US-based Boeing Corporation for the purchase of 22 Apache AH-64 attack helicopters and 15 Chinook CH-47 tactical transport helicopters.

From Rafale To LCA TEJAS

In 2016, India and France signed a deal for the acquisition of 36 Rafale combat jets from Dassault of France for Rs 59,000 crore that included a wide array of missiles and bombs such as Scalp and Meteor missiles, and Hammer precision-guided bombs along with several India-specific enhancements in Rafale platforms to suit India’s requirements. That very year, Modi Government also cleared deals for additional follow-on orders for four more P8I Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

For Indian Air Force, in February 2021, Modi Government signed a contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for 83 TEJAS MK-1A Light Combat Aircraft. The LCA project was almost dead until Modi Government gave a new lease of life to it and strived to make the LCA the base platform for India’s indigenous combat jet developments in future. The LCA Tejas deal was followed by a deal with Airbus for the acquisition of 56 C-295 transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force, of which 40 would be made in India by a consortium of Tata companies.

Taking Care of The Infantry

Also, let us not forget the importance that has been given by the Modi Government to the infantry soldier who for years grappled with the lack of modern bulletproof jackets and ballistic helmets as well as modern assault rifles. If one scrutinises the 11th five years plan from 2007-2012, there was provision for the acquisition of 1,86,168 bulletproof jackets for the Indian Armed Forces. In reality, nothing happened and all of that remained on paper during UPA era.

To mitigate the critical issue of the absence of modern bulletproof jackets, in 2016 Modi Government gave permission for ‘interim emergency acquisition’ for 50,000 bulletproof jackets through the ‘revenue route’ for which orders worth Rs 140 crore, were given to Tata Advanced Materials. In 2018, a bigger order of Rs 639 crore was given to SMPP Pvt Ltd for 1,86,138 bulletproof jackets. Also, it needs to be mentioned that in 2017, a similar contract worth Rs 180 crore was given to Kanpur-based MKU Ltd for 50,000 bulletproof helmets. It is an irony that for decades Indian private sector companies were ignored for procurement of bulletproof vests and helmets even as they were delivering quality consignments to clients across the world. Modi Government through its new policies recognized the role of the Indian private sector not just for these products but for an entire spectrum of equipment that the Indian Armed Forces acquire.

Making India Aatmanirbhar In Defence Production

Apart from weapons acquisition, Modi Government over the last few years has been laying the foundation for the development of resilient supply chains in domestic defence production as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan through augmenting opportunities for India’s best private sector companies and paving the way for self-sufficiency in defence manufacturing through decimating the stranglehold of weapons import lobbies, enhancing partnership between DRDO and private sector to indigenize production of all those systems and equipment that were traditionally imported for decades, and by massively restructuring organizations like state-owned OFB through their corporatisation for enhancing efficiency and on-time delivery of weapon systems.

Also, one cannot forget the success of the Modi Government’s diplomatic initiatives that led to India being included in the exclusive clubs such as MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), signing deals like BECA, and getting accorded Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA-1) status by the US that gives India access to critical defence technologies.

Preparing India For Next Generation Warfare

From testing anti-satellite missiles to giving impetus to India’s indigenous development of nuclear submarines, to actively supporting the production of INS Vikrant to boosting India’s indigenous drone development and acquisition, Modi Government has laid the foundation for fundamentally altering the landscape of India’s military capabilities boosted by the new impetus to the domestic industry that was for decades kept out of bounding from defence production. All these are giving shape to India’s much-awaited military-industrial complex which is so very critical both from the perspective of national security and economic development. From where India was in 2013 to where India stands now in 2022 in terms of military capabilities, credit for the same goes to

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