Not long ago when Manohar Parrikar was the Defence Minister of India, there was a report that the country wanted to spend approximately $223 billion over the next decade to upgrade its military aptitude, thus adding the required fire power to stay battle-ready.
This decision was taken by the government in view of the outdated defence equipment, some of which are used even today. This, however, has not fared well for the country, as numerous soldiers died using faulty or outdated equipment.
Under the upgradation programme, the government had envisaged buying almost 500 helicopters, 12 submarines, nearly 100 single engine jet fighters and over 120 twin-engine fighter aircraft by 2027.
In April, there was a report that the country had signed billion-dollar deals for two separate contracts to buy advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) systems from Isreal and 155mm/52-calibre self-propelled artillery guns from South Korea.
The fifth largest military spender faces a slew of geopolitical threats from its neighbouring countries and the menace of terrorism. In view of this, here are some of the advanced military weapons India has already invested in:
MR-SAM surface-to-air missile: In April this year, India inked an approximately $2.5 billion dollar missile deal with Israel. The Barak 8, surface-to-air missile systems or Medium Range Surface to Air Defense Missile (MR-SAM) system, is being developed jointly by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which will enable India to increase its prowess in ground-to-air combat.
It can be used proficiently against hostile aircraft. Believed to be the single-largest contract in Israel’s defence history, the MR-SAM will help the army to deal with aerial targets, ranging up to 70 Km.
Delivery of the first unit for deployment in the field is expected in 2023.
Guardian drones: In June this year, India inked a deal with the US for the delivery of 22 Guardian drones, costing more than two billion dollars. Several media reports indicate that India is purchasing the unarmed surveillance drones as it wants to keep better vigil over the India Ocean, with an aim to increase naval surveillance.
The Guardian Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is the naval variant of the Predator B drone. As per reports, it has a wingspan of 20 metres and is powered by Honeywell TPE331-10 power plant. It has a fuel capacity of approximately 1769 kilogrammes and can reach a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet. It can stay air-bound for a maximum of 27 hours.
It will be a valuable addition to the forces, as it will enable them to explore hostile territories to monitor activities and plan any mission accordingly.
155mm or 52-calibre self-propelled guns: The 155mm/52-calibre tracked self-propelled K-9 gun, which has a range of 40 km. On April 21, Private sector defence equipment manufacturing company Larsen and Toubro and South Korean firm Hanwha Techwin were given the task of executing a $720 million contract for supplying 100 K9 VAJRA-T guns to the Indian army.
The guns are currently in production at Talegaon near Pune in Maharashtra and are expected to be delivered in three years by 2020. According to reports, this is the improved version of HTW’s K9 Thunder. The K9 VAJRA will be an intelligent addition to the Indian army, especially assisting its desert formations.
Rafale fighter jets: This is one of the most awaited fighter aircraft, which is currently being manufactured, and the 36 jets are likely to join the Indian Air Force’s arsenal in the next two years, but it might extend to 2022.
India is set to receive a total of 36 Rafale warplanes, after striking a $8.7 billion deal with France last year. This will be an invaluable addition to the Indian Air Force’s existing fighter jets, which have lost sheen in comparison to the advanced air capabilities of Pakistan and China.
The combat aircraft comes equipped with state-of-the-art missiles like ‘Meteor’ and ‘Scalp’ that will give IAF a capability that had been sorely missing in its arsenal. It’s Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 km makes the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of IAF.
‘Scalp’, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km, also gives IAF an edge over its adversaries. According to Dassault Aviation, the Rafale can carry out both air-to-ground strikes, as well as air-to-air attacks and interceptions during the same sortie.
Stating that the Rafale has ‘Omnirole’ capability, Dassault Aviation claims that the aircraft can perform several actions at the same time, such as firing air-to-air missiles during a very low altitude penetration phase.
M 777 A-2 ultra-light howitzers (ULH): India can now also boast of M777 ultra-light howitzers guns, for which it struck a $750 million dollar (Rs 5,000 crore) deal with the US in November 2015. While the total delivery will include 145 such guns, most of the guns will be assembled in India.
This gun will propel the Army’s high-altitude capabilities, and it is a huge deal as it is the first deal to modernise the country’s artillery systems after the controversial Bofors deal.
Deliveries for the same are set to begin in 2019. The current outdated helicopters – Cheetah and Chetak – have proved dangerous in the past and the addition of these two copter variants will come as a huge relief to the army.