Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 27 February 2024 9.23 AM IST

A defence contract to be proud of 


The Defense Acquisitions Council has approved the biggest defence contract in the country's history for indigenous manufacturers.

The deal is for the additional purchase of 97 Tejas light aircraft and 156 Prachand helicopters. Both are indigenously developed. Tejas Mark-1A fighter jets will be manufactured for the Air Force. Prachand copters are for the Air Force and Army. Apart from this, the DAC chaired by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh has also approved a deal for the purchase of some other war material. Including this, the value of the defence contracts is estimated to be around 2.23 lakh crore.

DAC has also approved the modernization of the Air Force's Sukhoi Su-30 MKI aircraft. The Tejas Mark-1A is an indigenously designed and built fighter aircraft with more than 65 percent indigenous components. Earlier, the Narendra Modi government had given an order worth Rs 36,468 crore to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for Tejas aircraft. Delivery of these Tejas fighter jets is expected to begin by February 2024. Apart from extending the Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme to the defence sector, the central government is also aiming to create more employment opportunities through it.

The Department of Defense expects that the negotiations with local manufacturers will take time for such a large deal, but the process will be faster than that required for foreign deals. Agreeing on the price will take the most time and once agreed upon, the Union Cabinet on Security will give final approval to the deal. If so, the ordered defence systems will be part of the army within ten years. A part of the agreement is to upgrade the tanks bought earlier from abroad with automatic target trackers, modern computer systems etc.

Since coming to power in 2014, the Modi government has initiated major changes in the defence sector. The most important of which was to reduce the purchase of war materials from abroad and to manufacture them in India. Private participation was also allowed for this. Before this, war materials manufactured by private companies were bought from abroad. This often led to huge controversies and cases that dragged on for years. The current defence deal is a big change from that. It is a source of pride for every Indian.

Instead of spending a major share of the huge budget allocated to the defence department on foreign purchases of war arms and other related war material, the fact that a large part of that amount is being spent in India now is a boost to the Indian economy on many levels. The Agnipath scheme, which recruits about fifty thousand soldiers every year, also started a big change. Initially, there was protest against it, but later it was generally accepted. It is also a good sign that many Asian and African countries are coming forward to buy arms from India as India has started manufacturing war materials indigenously.

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