The Rajnath Singh-led defence acquisitions council (DAC) accorded the acceptance of necessity (AoN), which is the first stage in the long procurement process, to all the projects under the ‘Buy IDDM’ (indigenously designed, developed and manufactured) category.
While some of these projects are still in the design and development stage, others will have to be eventually cleared by the PM-led cabinet committee on security because of their huge costs.
The biggest proposal cleared was the Rs 32,000 crore one for 60 ‘utility helicopters-marine’ being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics. In the 5.5-tonne class like the operational advanced light helicopters (ALHs), these choppers will have foldable rotors for deployment on warships. The DAC also cleared the Rs 3,800 crore acquisition of nine ALH Mark-III choppers for the Coast Guard.
Another major procurement was the Rs 20,000 crore one for 225 BrahMos extended range missiles, which fly almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8, for frontline destroyers and frigates, as was reported earlier by TOI.
A separate much smaller contract for next-generation BrahMos maritime mobile coastal batteries is also to be inked this month. With a strike range now extended to 450-km from the original 290-km, BrahMos has become the “prime conventional (non-nuclear) strike weapon” for the armed forces, with contracts worth over Rs 38,000 crore already inked over the years.
Another significant take-away was the DAC nod to the Rs 8,526 crore procurement of 307 advanced towed artillery gun systems (ATAGS), which the DRDO contends are the best in their class with a maximum strike range of 48-km.
This will be the first order for the indigenous 155mm/52 calibre ATAGS, which has Bharat Forge and Tata Advanced Systems as the production partners. There will be more such orders because the Army has a long-term requirement for 1,580 such guns, as reported earlier by TOI.
Overall, the Navy accounted for over Rs 56,000 crore of the total proposals cleared, which also included the Shakti electronic warfare systems for warships to counter enemy operations. The IAF, in turn, will get long range stand-off weapons, which will be indigenously designed, developed and integrated on Sukhoi-30MKI fighters.
“To keep pace with emerging technologies and counter the adversaries on the western and northern fronts, the necessity for the new weapons and their integration with the delivery platforms was felt,” an official said.
There was also the Rs 1,300 crore AoN for a medium-speed marine diesel engine. “This is the first time India is venturing into the development and manufacturing of such engines to achieve self-reliance,” he said.
“The total AoNs granted for capital acquisitions in the 2022-23 fiscal is now over Rs 2.71 lakh crore. Of them, almost 99% of the procurements are be sourced from Indian industries,” he added.