SOURCE: Jogin Abraham Thomas / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Hindu Nationalist Narendra Modi Government in India might have just little over a year before Country goes back to election mode, this time to elect new government in the centre but after Budget 2018 was announced it seems like it is unlikely Modi government is in any mood to acquire or take any big decision on procurement of big-ticket defence items which has been stuck from the time of previous UPA Government .
Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy which are all three important wings of Indian armed force, have many big-ticket defence items which had been stuck for last 10-15 years or more at the hands of Defence Ministry due to red tape and procedural delays but it seems Modi is failed to free Defence Ministry from the slow bureaucratic system of India.
Modi Government has failed to clear many big-ticket weapons procurement for India Navy that includes developmental clearance for the development of second indigenous aircraft carrier for Indian Navy and also for procurement of 6 new next-generation Diesel Submarines under Project-75I. Indian Navy also has a requirement for 123 naval multirole helicopters and 111 armed naval light utility choppers which have gone through the repeated tendering process without any success.
Indian Air Force to has been forced to choose between two rejected contenders of MMRCA Tender to meet its Single engine fighter aircraft requirement, but even Request for proposal for that same tender is yet to be issued even when it had received RFI from vendors nearly two years back. While the squadron strength of IAF continues to suffer, yet government refused to increase orders for Dassault Rafale over 36 even after repeated requests from IAF.
IAF’s Avro replacement program along with Mid-Air Refuelling tender too has failed to take off even when chances of the country facing Two front war is becoming more and more real after Dholam standoff with China. IAF’s request for Combat Drones from Israel and USA to has not happened and contract for procurement of S-400 Air Defence system with Russia has been dragging on for some time now.
Indian Army’s requirement for over 2000 modern Infantry combat vehicle (ICV) has not moved even when many private sector companies have shown an active interest in participation. The long pending requirement for Modern 3rd generation Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) from Israel too has seen recent flip-flop after the government received an objection from DRDO even though indigenous ATGM is yet to enter developmental trails and might take few more years before it enters production.
The government has also failed to give clearance for development of 5th Generation AMCA fighter jet program along with country’s first Ghatak Unmmaned Combat Aerial vehicle (UCAV) program even when State agencies had sent their request to the Defence Ministry two to three years back.
Push for Make In India in Defence too has not yielded any major success story for the Indian Armed forces, Private Defence Companies which opened their shops and invested in India in hopes of government orders and tenders are yet to see any major big ticket items coming their way and many of this companies are barely able to survive since government is yet to break monopoly of the State-owned public sector units which still dominate each defence deal .
Only Saving grace for Narendra Modi Government in its four years in power has been the procurement of 36 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France and coercing Indian Air Force to place orders for upgraded 83 LCA-Tejas MK-1A Indigenous fighter jet which has been developed locally in India.