IAF Wants Rs 40,000 Crore for Modernisation

Indian Air Force

New Delhi: With top defence officials repeatedly emphasizing on the possibility of a two-front war and the need to have an airpower capable of dealing with such a scenario, it has sought the need for massive funds for its modernisation.

Keeping this in view, the IAF has sought Rs 40,000 crore from the government for procuring latest weapons even as it faces a severe cash flow problem.

It has sought additional money from the government to buy new equipment and also pay for weapons and systems it has already contracted to purchase.

The capital expenditure of Rs 39,300 crore earmarked for IAF in this year’s budget is not enough to upgrade capabilities and more money needs to be pumped in to avoid a funding crisis with least Rs 40,000 crore more needed to pursue its modernisation.

“There’s a worrying mismatch between our requirements and the money allocated for it. We have asked the government to provide more funds. We have been told that IAF’s demand will be looked into at the revised estimate stage in December,” official sources said.

The IAF has a massive demand on its wish list for making critical purchases running into billions of dollars. These include 114 new medium-weight fighter planes, 83 light combat aircraft, a mix of 33 more MiG-29s and Sukhoi-30s, six aerial refueling planes, 56 new medium transport aircraft and 70 basic trainer aircraft.

“Apart from buying new platforms, we also have to make payments for those that were contracted for earlier and are in the process of being inducted. The IAF has a committed liability of Rs 48,000 crore,” official sources said.

Orders have already been placed for multi-billion dollar weaponry and systems that the air force has to pay for which include 36 Rafale fighter planes from France, five S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems from Russia and 22 Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from the United States.

India defence budget for 2019-20 stands at Rs 3.18 lakh crore, including a capital outlay of just Rs 1.04 lakh crore. India’s defence spending currently stands at around 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), the lowest in decades.