THE DEFENCE Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday cleared seven proposals worth Rs 28,000 crore, two of which are aimed to boost surveillance capabilities of the forces. While one of them is for six new indigenously built “eyes in the sky” platforms for the Air Force, the other is related to Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems for the Navy.
Apart from these, the DAC gave its go-ahead to the Navy to procure 38 BrahMos missiles and five more Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vehicles. It also cleared Modular Bridges for the Army.
In a statement, the government said this was the DAC’s first meeting since the “new regime of Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020” came into existence in September, and “these are the first set of Acceptance of Necessity (AoNs) accorded, with the majority AoNs being accorded in the highest categorisation of Buy Indian”.
The government said that six of the seven proposals “that is, Rs 27,000 cr out of Rs 28,000 cr for which AoNs were granted will be sourced from the Indian industry to give a boost” to the Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives.
The Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C), also called the “eyes in the sky”, will boost Air Force’s surveillance capabilities, especially on the borders with Pakistan and China. The previous such platform, Netra, which was developed by the DRDO, was used by the Air Force during the 2019 Balakot airstrike to track any incoming Pakistani fighter jets.
Under the new project, to build the six new AEW&C platforms, DRDO will use planes from Air India to mount Active Electronically Scanned Array radar systems that can give 360-degree surveillance capabilities. The project is estimated to cost over Rs 10,000 crore.
The other important surveillance project that got DAC approval was for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the Navy that can operate from the deck of ships.
China and Pakistan are already using such platforms. While Pakistan has Boeing’s Scaneagle, China is using Austria-made S-100.
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