In another effort to encourage Indian firms to produce high-quality weaponry for the armed forces, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh, decided to restrict the purchase of three major weapon systems only to local manufacturers.

During the short meeting, held ‘virtually,’ as the defence minister is down with Covid, it was decided to firmly push indigenisation or as the government said, atmanirbharata. The Army plan to buy QR SAMs or Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missiles has been turned from a Buy Global to a Buy Indian order. This means that only Indian firms will be able to supply the three regiments of QR SAMs to the Army’s air-defence system.

A similar decision has been taken for the Articulated All Terrain Vehicles which can be used in high-altitude areas. All 18 of them will be purchased from Indian vendors. This was initially a Buy Global case. The decision about light machine guns for the Army followed a similar pattern. This will also be Buy and Make Indian.

There are, of course, weaponry that are urgently needed and cannot be immediately made in India like tank engines, gun-missile systems, high-quality rifles, not to speak of fighter planes like the Rafale. These issues will again come up for discussion in the next DAC meetings on January 20 and 21.

The three chiefs, defence secretary Ajay Kumar and other officials attended the meeting today.