The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the Ministry of Defence on Monday gave the go ahead for four major acquisitions worth nearly Rs. 16,000 crore for the Indian Navy and the Army.

The shopping list approved for the forces includes two deep sea rescue vessels, an indigenous anti-submarine craft programme, procurement of more Israeli Barak missiles and 41 advanced light helicopters.

In order to improve the country’s response to any disaster at sea, the DAC — headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony — approved the procurement of two deep-sea rescue vessels by the Indian Navy. The approval comes in the wake of the August 14 mishap involving INS Sindhurakshak submarine in which 18 personnel were killed.

The incident appears to have acted as a catalyst in providing a speedy approval to the Indian Navy to procure two Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicles (DSRVs). A sum of Rs. 1,500 crore has been sanctioned for the project by the DAC.

Defence sources said the DSRVs would help improve the Navy’s response in time of any disaster. Capable of performing even in the deep seas, these vehicles would ensure that the force is able to respond effectively in a time of crisis. INS Sindhurakshak, incidentally, is still sitting on the sea bed off the coast of Mumbai ever since it sank following multiple explosions in August.

Anti-submarine warfare

The DAC has also approved of a Rs. 13,000 crore project that would enhance the anti-submarine warfare capability of the Indian Navy. The committee has approved indigenous development of 700 ton Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft that would take on submarines operating in coastal waters, within 200 nautical miles of the base port.

These vessels would watch over foreign submarines operating close to the Indian coastline and would also be capable of laying anti-ship and anti-submarine mines.

The crafts would be built by a public sector undertaking, the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), that would work in close coordination with the Navy on the design.

Barak comes out of deep freeze

After remaining in deep freeze for five years due to an ongoing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Israeli Barak missiles have found favour with the Defence Ministry that cleared procurement proposals worth over Rs. 16,000 crore on Monday.

The proposal to procure 262 Barak I missiles for Rs. 880 crore was cleared by the DAC.

This has paved the way for the deployment of the 9 km range air defence missiles on India’s two aircraft carrier — the INS Virat, and the INS Vikramaditya — which at the moment is on its way to India from Russia. The Navy had been using these missiles but due to the suspension in the procurement process had been left with just 150.

Before arriving at the decision to give the go ahead for the advanced missile system, the Ministry of Defence had also weighed the opinion given by the Attorney General in the matter and that of the independent group it had constituted at the last DAC meet to take a final call on the deal.

Earlier, the procurement of the missiles had been put on hold after allegations of bribery in the deal had surfaced and the CBI had initiated a probe in 2006. With the case now in the final stages and the premier investigating agency due to file its closure report soon, the Ministry decided to go ahead with the deal.

Army to get 40 ALH, Navy one

The DAC has also given its nod to the Army to go ahead with the acquisition of 41 Dhruv advanced Light Helicopters. The choppers would be acquired at a total cost of Rs. 300 crore and one of them would serve the Navy.

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