India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has accorded approval for the procurement of military platforms and weapons worth around USD3.2 billion (INR22,800 crores).
The procurements were approved during a meeting of the council, chaired by Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh, in New Delhi on Nov. 28. The DAC was constituted for overall guidance of the defence procurement planning process of the Indian Armed Forces.
The approval was given for the following procurement programs:
1. Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for two new aircraft platforms (Airbus A330) for indigenous DRDO AWACS programme.
2. Six additional P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Indian Navy.
3. Twin-Engine Heavy Helicopters (TEHH) for the Indian Coast Guard.
4. Indigenous design, development and manufacturing of ‘Thermal Imaging Night Sights’ for Assault Rifles
AoN for two new aircraft platforms for indigenous DRDO AWACS programme
As a follow up of the successful indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) programme, the DAC revalidated the Acceptance of Necessity for the procurement of additional Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) India aircraft.
The mission system and sub-systems for these aircraft would be indigenously designed, developed and integrated into the main platform by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
These platforms would provide onboard Command & Control (C2) and Airborne Early Warning (AEW) which would assist the Indian Air Force (IAF) in achieving effective air space dominance in the least possible time. Induction of these systems would increase the extent of coverage along our borders and greatly enhance both the Air Defence and Offensive capabilities of the IAF.
According to reports, the militarized Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft platform, developed from the civilian Airbus A330 jet airliner, will be procured from the program. The platform will be modified with large fixed radome which will house the DRDO’s indigenously developed radar.
The A330 MRTT is originally developed as an aerial refuelling/military transport aircraft and India’s new AWACS platform will be also capable of refuelling other aircraft mid-air in addition to its AEW&CS role.
Additional P-8Is for the Indian Navy
The DAC also approved the procurement of six additional P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft for the Indian Navy. These aircraft would greatly strengthen the Navy’s capabilities for maritime coastal surveillance, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW).
The P-8I is the India-specific variant of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft that Boeing has developed for the U.S. Navy to replace its ageing P-3 Orion fleet. P-8 is a military derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800ERX (737NG) commercial airliner.
The Indian Navy is the first international customer for the P-8. The Navy currently operates eight P-8I aircraft which were ordered from Boeing on Jan. 1, 2009 under a $2.1 billion contract. An additional four aircraft were ordered in July 2016 for around $1 billion and are to be delivered by 2020. The first aircraft of the second batch was rolled out of the assembly line at Boeing’s facility in Renton, Washington last month.
Twin-Engine Heavy Helicopters (TEHH) for the Indian Coast Guard
The DAC approved procurement of Twin-Engine Heavy Helicopters (TEHH) for the Indian Coast Guard. These aircraft would enable the Coast Guard to undertake missions to prevent maritime terrorism, infiltration of terrorists by sea routes as well as Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.
Contenders for the program are Airbus Helicopters H225M ‘Caracal’ (Europe) and Sikorsky S-92 (USA).
Thermal Imaging Night Sights for Assault Rifles
To boost the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the DAC accorded approval for indigenous design, development and manufacturing of ‘Thermal Imaging Night Sights’ for Assault Rifles. These sights will be manufactured by the Indian private industry and used by troops deployed on the frontline.
‘Thermal Imaging Night Sights’ would enable troops to undertake long-range accurate engagements in dark and all weather conditions thereby enhancing the night fighting capabilities.