Clearing defence proposals worth about Rs 30,000 crore, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday made way for the purchase of four additional P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance-anti submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy. It also cleared the proposal to replace the Army’s aging artillery guns.
“The DAC cleared way for the acquisition of four additional P- 8i LRMR aircraft at Rs 4,380 crore. Besides, the Army’s aging L- 70 and Zu-23 mm air defence guns would be replaced with 428 guns. These are crucial for air defence capabilities,” said a defence ministry official. The DAC is the highest decision-making body on defence acquisition in the Defence Ministry.
The acquisition of additional four P-8i aircraft is significant to boost the Indian Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities, which are critical in view of the increasing activities of the Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean Region. While the contract for eight such aircraft was signed in 2009, the then Defence Minister A K Antony had in May 2013 spelled the need to go for additional aircraft under “option clause”. In November 2014, the Navy had decided to go ahead with the procurement of four additional aircraft.
The artillery gun acquisition — a critical area for the Army’s corps of artillery, which has been deprived of guns since the Bofors scandal — will now be followed by the issuance of a Request for Proposal.
The DAC has cleared the purchase of these 428 guns at Rs 16,900 crore.