Modernisation of Armed Forces Need About Rs 80,000 Crore More

Indian Army

New Delhi: With growing tension along the borders in the north and west and the need to guard the 7,500 kilometre coast line, it is estimated that the armed forces would need about Rs 80,000 crore more for modernisation to plug critical operational gaps and meeting the ‘committed liabilities’ this financial year.

According to estimates, the 13-lakh strong Army has projected an additional requirement of Rs 20,500 crore for capital expenditure, while the IAF has asked for around Rs 40,000 crore more. The Navy needs about Rs 20,000 crore at the revised estimate in December.

The three wings of the armed forces contend that they are cash strapped and need financial support to meet the instalment payment for arms deals inked in earlier years, leave alone money for new modernisation projects.

The forces are grappling with critical shortages on several fronts, ranging from fighter jets, submarines and helicopters to modern infantry weapons, 155mm howitzers and ammunition.

The overall defence outlay in the 2019-2020 budget was pegged at Rs 3.18 lakh crore, with Rs 2.10 lakh crore revenue expenditure for salaries and day-to-day running cost outstripping the Rs 1.08 lakh crore for capital expenditure by far.

The Navy, for instance, wanted around Rs 29,000 crore just for ‘committed liabilities’ this year but was allocated Rs 23,154 crore as capital expenditure. The Army had projected a requirement of Rs 44,500 crore for capital expenditure but got only Rs 29,472 crore. Even under the revenue outlay and the ex-servicemen contributory health scheme head, the Army needs another Rs 15,500 crore this year.

Fifteenth Finance Commission chaired by former bureaucrat NK Singh which has been asked to examine the possibility of separate mechanism for funding defence and internal security was during its field tour in Ladakh was briefed by the Army chief General Bipin Rawat.

The Navy vice chief Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar said the maritime force “will certainly seek more money” because it is a “challenge” to execute modernisation plans. “What we need is more capital allocation. The Navy’s share was 18% of the defence budget in 2012-13. But it has come down to 13.6%. We would like it to go back to 18-20%,” he said.

With a capital allocation of Rs 39,303 crore this year, the technology and capital-intensive IAF is also grappling with huge shortfalls in paying instalments. The force, for instance, has already paid around over Rs 34,000 crore to France in ‘milestone-linked instalments’ under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked for 36 Rafale fighters in September 2016,while another major instalment of Rs 13,000 crore is in the pipeline.