The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, today approved various acquisitions worht over Rs 7000 crore paving way for the much needed modernisation of the weapons system. The government gave the go ahead to Indian Air Force to purchase one more C17 heavy transport aircraft and the Coast Guard to acquire six multi-mission C-295 maritime aircraft for Rs 5,500 crore.
DAC also approved the procurement of 1,500 indigenously designed and developed Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare protection system for the infantry combat vehicle for Rs 1,265 crore. It also reviewed the working of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Another proposal of the army and the IAF for the procurement of 55 low level light weight radar was also cleared by the DAC for Rs 419 crore. Overall, acquisitions worth more than Rs 7000 crore were cleared today by the defense minister.
The six aircraft which are likely to be acquired for the Coast Guard is the C-295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which is manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space. Equipped with a new generation mission system, the C295 aircraft can conduct maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) missions. The government is purchasing just one additional C17 aircraft besides the already 10 in possession because that is the only lone aircraft currently available with Boeing. The Indian Air Force seems to have taken too long to push through the original proposal to buy three new C-17 aircraft since Boeing had already pledged four of the last five C-17s in its production line to Qatar.
The contract for procurement of six additional C-17s worth USD 4.7 billion was signed way back in 2011 but lack of funds caused the follow-on order to get delayed. Talking about the NBC system, sources said the infantry combat vehicles are currently fitted with a manual system and the new ones will be automatic. It is believed that the six C295 Maritime Patrol Aircraft to be purchased by the Coast Guard will be fitted with state of the art “mission suite” for maritime warfare, which has been designed and developed by the DRDO. It is also being speculated that certain “classified” procurement for upgradation of weaponry and warning systems have also been approved.