2019: Major Year for Defence Forces in Acquisition and Appointments

By Sri Krishna

Defence Industry

New Delhi. It was a year of major significance for the Defence forces of the country and a signal to adversaries that the country is well prepared to meet any eventuality.

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The year saw the armed forces getting weapons which would strengthen the nation’s security and enable it to defend in the years to come.

Among the major steps taken in this direction was the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 Independence Day address to the nation from Red Fort.saying “our entire military power will have to work in unison and move forward.”

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The first CDS with the rank of a four-star General is the outgoing Army Chief General Bipin Rawat who took charge on the last day of 2019. He will head the Department of Military Affairs thereby raising the level of command of the armed forces.

It saw the government take tough measures to tackle the menace of terrorism as the strike of February 24 on terrorist training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pakistan by the Indian Air Force (IAF) countering the dastardly February 14 terrorist attack on CRPF convoy killing 40 personnel.

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The year saw major acquisitions and big strides in the field of missile and satellite technology. Among them was the strengthening of the nation’s air power with the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh taking delivery of the first of the 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France at a ceremony in Merignac in France.

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The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft will make India stronger and give a boost to its air dominance to ensure peace and security in the region.

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A contract was inked for five Squadrons of Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile System i.e. S-400 missile system with the Russian Government. The equipment of the first Squadron is likely to be inducted in mid 2020.

IAF is also procuring 18 Squadrons of Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile System which has been jointly developed by DRDO and IAI. The Induction of this Medium Range Surface to Air Missile System will be from early 2020 onwards.

The year saw the signing of the contract for seven additional indigenous Akash Squadrons and associated specialist infrastructure. Induction would commence from early 2021onwards.

As part of its programme to strengthen the air defence of the country, IAF contracted for 272 Su-30 MKI aircraft under various agreements. Presently deliveries are continuing under block IV contract and are likely to conclude by March 2020. The Su-30 MKI currently is the largest and amongst the most potent fighter fleet in operation with the IAF.

The Defence Minister handed over Medium Range Surface-to-Air-Missile to Indian Air Force at the Bharat Dynamics Limited premises in Hyderabad on August 3 on the occasion of Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Defence PSU.

In keeping with what the former Army Chief and now CDS General Rawat had said about having a leaner and meaner army, reforms were initiated including restructuring of Army HQ to have better efficiency more satisfaction and larger availability of young officers in the field.

The year saw successful summer user trials of third Generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile NAG at Pokhran Field Firing Ranges. NAG missile has been developed to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in all weather conditions with day and night capabilities and with a minimum range of 500 metres and maximum range of four kilometres.

Keeping in view the increasing Naval presence of China’s PLA Navy and the construction of warships by that country, not to lag behind, the year saw the launching and construction of ships and submarines

The first of Class of P17A Frigates, ‘Nilgiri’ was launched at Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai and the launching of fourth submarine INS Vela of Project 75.

Meanwhile, the year saw the keel laying ceremony of fourth ship of Project 15B (Visakhapatnam class), second ship of Project 17A frigates and first of the Survey Vessel Large.

The year saw the sixth ship being commissioned at Vishakhapatnam while the seventh ship of the project, LCU L57, was delivered and is likely to be commissioned in the near future.

The second submarine of Scorpene Class (Project 75), INS Khanderi, and the Aircraft Carrier Dock, was commissioned.

The IAF got more teeth with the induction of the Chinook helicopters with ten of the 15 helicopters with the process being completed by March 2020.

ASTRA BVR missile being designed and developed by DRDO was successful and the IAF plans to procure these missiles for fighter aircraft.

The year saw the successful integration of the BrahMos missile on the Su-30 MKI and so enhancing the strategic significance and combat potential of the aircraft.

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It was a year when military diplomacy was stepped up with Defence Minister visiting various countries, including United States, France, Russia, Ukraine, Japan and South Korea while along with the Foreign Minister Dr S. Jaishankar he took part in the 2+2 Dialogue with U.S. and Japan.

Early part of the past year saw a large scale, pan India Coastal Defence Exercise, SEA VIGIL-19, held along the entire coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone with the aim of simultaneously activating all agencies involved in the coastal security construct, and to identify gaps and mitigating measures.

Besides Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and all other stakeholders involved in the nation’s Coastal Security framework participated in the exercise.