India boosts domestic defense capabilities with acquisition drive

India’s Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) has given the go-ahead for a series of capital acquisition proposals amounting to Rs 84,560 crore ($10 billion).

The approvals, announced on February 16, 2024, show India’s commitment to defense self-reliance and underline a shift towards sourcing technologies from domestic suppliers.

The ‘Aatmanirbharta in Defence’ initiative aims to reduce import dependency and strengthen domestic defense manufacturing capabilities by issuing around 350 new industrial licenses in the last seven years. Encouraged by government initiatives, private players are developing defense manufacturing capability to meet the demands of the armed forces and address program delays, cost overruns and quality issues.

The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved a series of Allowances of Need (AoNs) for a variety of capital acquisition proposals, marking an investment to strengthen the nation’s armed forces and coast guard. Focused on advancing the capabilities of the Armed Forces and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), the approved proposals include a range of equipment and technologies.

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In a bid to strengthen India’s defense capabilities against evolving threats, DAC has paved the way for procurement of new-generation anti-tank mines equipped with seismic sensors and remote deactivation functions. In addition, approvals have been granted to acquire air defense tactical control radars to enhance air defense systems and enhance surveillance capabilities.

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Recognizing the importance of maritime security, the DAC has approved the procurement of medium-range maritime reconnaissance and multi-mission maritime aircraft to enhance surveillance and interdiction capabilities across India’s maritime sector. In addition, measures to strengthen the offensive capabilities of naval assets include the procurement of heavy torpedoes for Calvary Class submarines.

Approvals have also been granted for the acquisition of aerial refueling aircraft for the Indian Air Force and software defined radios for the Indian Coast Guard, facilitating communication and networking capabilities.

Recently, India has sought to strengthen its Air Force capabilities and promote self-reliance through two initiatives. First, the government approved a $4 billion deal for the acquisition of 31 MQ-9Bs remote controlled aircraft. Additionally, in a move towards bilateral cooperation between Brazil and India, Embraer Defense & Security and Mahindra have joined forces to facilitate the procurement of the C-390 Millennium multi-mission aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

DAC’s decision to amend the Defense Acquisition Process (DAP) 2020 reflects a concerted effort to promote an enabling ecosystem for defense start-ups and MSMEs. By streamlining procurement processes and providing incentives through programs such as Innovations for Defense Excellence and Technology Development Fund, India aims to create a supportive environment for domestic players and promote ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the defense sector .

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