New Delhi: In a major boost to the armed forces, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) at its meeting December 22 chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh cleared 24 capital acquisition proposals valued at around Rs 85,000 crore, including light tanks, futuristic infantry combat vehicles (FICV), mounted gun systems, drones and minesweeper vessels.
These proposals include six for Indian Army, six for Indian Air Force, 10 for Indian Navy and two for Indian Coast Guard, for a total value of Rs 84,328 crore. In a release issued by the Defence Ministry, it said 21 proposals, worth Rs 82,127 crore (97.4 per cent), are approved for procurement from indigenous sources.
According to sources in the defence establishment other projects that were given ‘Acceptance of Necessity’ (AON), besides final clearances to ink contracts, include ballistic helmets, anti-tank guided missiles, Very Short Range Air Defence System and multiple types of radars. AON is the first stage in a procurement process that allows the forces to go ahead with a project. The duration of the procurement varies from case-to-case basis.
In terms of cost, projects for the Army received the most number of clearances, with land force equipment coming to a total of Rs 50,000 crore. The most significant of them is AON for Project Zorawar, which will cost about Rs 16,000 crore.
Under Project Zorawar, the Army will induct indigenous light tanks with a maximum weight of 25 tons — and a margin of 10 per cent — that have the same firepower as regular tanks. These tanks will be armed with Artificial Intelligence (AI), integration of tactical surveillance drones to provide a high degree of situational awareness and loitering munition, along with an active protection system.
The Army also wants these tanks to be amphibious, so it can be deployed across riverine regions, even the Pangong Tso lake in Eastern Ladakh. The project has been named after Zorawar Singh Kahluria — a military general who served under Jammu’s Raja Gulab Singh — known as the ‘conqueror of Ladakh’.
The Army has also got the green light for the FICV which will replace the Russian BMPs in service currently.
Another significant project is the mounted gun system, a project that has been pending for years. This project is part of a 1999 artillery modernisation programme that was rolled out in 2001. Unlike a regular artillery gun, these 155mmx52 caliber guns will be fitted on a vehicle that will allow it to traverse through tough terrains and also to shoot and scoot quicker.