The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, met yesterday in South Block, Delhi to address the key needs of the armed forces. The Defence Minister was apprised of the current needs of the armed forces by the three service chiefs. DAC has formally cleared at least 19 strategic proposals worth over INR 28,000 crores. The current DAC meeting had assumed great importance as the council had failed meet in the last two scheduled dates.
Army Artillery Regiment receives much needed fire power.
The Indian Army’s artillery regiment has received a shot-in-the-arm as the DAC gave its green signal for the procurement of M777 howitzers from USA. With DAC’s approval the proposal to acquire 145 M777 ULH howitzers from USA under a $ 750 million deal will steam ahead. USA in February, 2016 had forwarded the Letter of Acceptance (LOA) and had designated ‘BAE Systems’, as the vendor for the deal. The multi-million dollar deal is to be fortified under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channels.
Of the 145 howitzers on order, 20 artillery guns will be manufactured in US and UK. The remaining 125 guns will be locally assembled in India through various working partnership BAE systems has forged with Indian firms. India will receive the first lot of the guns within six months of signing the final agreement. The company also aims to gradually transfer its Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) facility to India in the near future. This will enable the gun to feature high degrees of indigenization in its design.
The M777 has a range of 25 kilometers and can fire up to 5 – 155mm GPS guided accurate munitions and artillery shells per minute. The M777 howitzers weigh a mere 4,100 kilograms and are perhaps the most advanced and lethal artillery guns ever put into service. The guns can delivery deadly punitive strikes with pin-point accuracy even on concrete reinforced bunkers.
Indigenously manufactured Dhanush Howitzers see the light of day.
The DAC has also given its much needed approval for the bulk production of indigenously manufactured Dhanush 155mm howitzers. OFB and ARDE will now produce 18 Dhanush artillery guns which will be the first step in fulfilling India Army’s order for 114 such guns. The army had moved ahead with its orders after the guns successfully cleared their crucial summer trails and winter trials. Three artillery pieces will now supplied to the army as part of user exploitation trials.
Dhanush howitzers are based on Bofors and are speculated to have a range of around 35 kilometres. Each artillery piece is expected to cost around 14 crores and will be a key addition to the army’s fire power. The howitzer features electronic sighting and laying systems making it extremely user friendly. The orders for the Dhanush howitzers are expected to go up as the army has a need for around 1,500 towed guns.
Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) issued for procuring six missile vessels.
The Indian Navy’s long standing requirement for procuring six next-generation missile vessels has been partly answered after DAC issued AoN for the proposal. These vessels being procured at INR 13,600 crores are miniature frigates and are being sought as a replacement for the aging missile boats. Indian navy had extensively used the missile boats under its 25th missile boat squadron to inflict punitive strikes on Pakistani harbours during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
The vessels are expected to displace around 600 tonnes and may feature a unique mix of AShM, SSM and SAM missiles. The Indian Navy plans to arm these boats with BrahMos AShM and SSM missiles making them the most potent weapon platform. The vessels will also feature point defence missile systems like the Barak-1 SAM to protect against any intruders. Armed with several missiles these vessels will serve as force multipliers for the Indian Navy.
The council has cleared the navy’s request for procuring five diving support vessels at around INR 150 crores. The navy’s plan for augmenting berthing facilities at major naval docks has also been cleared by the DAC.
IAF’s proposal for deals worth over 2,000 crore cleared.
The acquisition council has also green lighted the procurement of simulators for Jaguar aircraft at over INR 500 crores. These simulators have been developed indigenously by several leading Indian firms. The simulators are designed for the DARIN-III version which is the latest and most advanced version of the Jaguar aircraft. These simulators are crucial for the pilots of the IAF who are tasked with annihilation of vital installations deep inside enemy territory.
The state-run Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has been roped in to set-up an electronic warfare range for the IAF. The test range is expected to come up at a cost of around INR 1,400 crores. The range is expected to be set up close to BEL’s existing test facility in Ghaziabad. The facility will help IAF and BEL co-develop several state-of-the-art electronic warfare systems.
Several on-going proposals reviewed by DAC.
The DAC is also learnt to have reviewed several ongoing procurement proposals of the armed forces. The Defence Minister was informed about the progress being made in procurement of SR-SAM and VSHORAD systems. The modernization program floated for the T-90 MBT was also reviewed by the council. However, the procurement case for S-400 Triumph SAM systems did not make the cut.
© Karthik Kakoor