Military modernisation picks up pace

In one year of the Narendra Modi government, military modernisation has gathered pace, especially in the last couple of months, with some quick decisions taken by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). However, major policy formulations, in particular, revision of Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) and a separate policy for ‘Make in India’, are still awaited.

The government’s election pitch of ‘One Rank One Pension’ for armed forces personnel has been cleared in principle and the final sanction is expected shortly.

The biggest decision of the NDA government in the field of defence was the termination of the long-running Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft contract for 126 jets and the announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for direct purchase of 36 Rafale jets from France in a government-to-government deal. Apart from that, in a move with long-term implications, the government rightfully downsized the new mountain strike corps meant for the eastern border from 90,000 to 35,000 troops due to finance obligations.

The DAC has cumulatively cleared defence deals worth over Rs. 1,00,000 crore. The recent decisions on Avro replacement programme and Kamov helicopters, which involve industry in a big way, will help develop aerospace ecosystem in the country. While some are long-pending deals, others are approvals to initiate the procurement process which involves long timelines. The need is to take things to the logical conclusion minus the time and cost overruns typical of our procurement process.