Made-in-India ATAGS, BrahMos, choppers: Modi govt clears defence acquisitions worth Rs 70,500 cr

New Delhi March 19 dmanewsdesk:  The Ministry of Defence (MoD) Thursday gave initial clearance to key acquisition projects worth Rs 70,500 crore, including the much-awaited procurement of 307 Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS) and 60 indigenous marine utility helicopters.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), that met under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for capital acquisition amounting to over Rs 70,500 crore under Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured) — a new category of procurement.

A statement by the defence ministry said that out of the total proposals, Indian Navy proposals constitute more than Rs 56,000 crore, largely including indigenous BrahMos missiles, Shakti electronic warfare systems, utility helicopters for maritime operations, among others.

The BrahMos missiles being acquired are the extended range ones, sources in defence establishment said. However, the most significant clearance is that of the utility helicopters, which the defence ministry said will multiply the Navy’s operational readiness in the domain of search & rescue operations, casualty evacuation, humanitarian assistance disaster relief, among others.

This effectively means that the Navy’s plan to acquire 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) under the strategic partnership route, which will allow a selected foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to partner with a nominated Indian company to manufacture the choppers domestically, goes for a toss.

Defence sources explained that the parameters of the helicopter to be supplied by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) do not meet the criteria of the NUH programme fully and only half of the required strength is being procured.

“It is hoped that the HAL helicopter will eventually meet the NUH criteria in future. If not, then the Navy will pursue the original programme,” a source said.

ThePrint was the first to report way back in 2019 that the NUH programme had flown into rough weather with the HAL stepping in with its offer of an indigenous helicopter which did not meet the basic criteria of folding blades back then. The Navy and the private industry had objected to the HAL’s bid.

The frontrunner in the NUH programme was the Airbus, which was offering the AS565 chopper back then.

ThePrint had also reported last year that the government would allow the HAL bid and the state-run entity was likely to get the order.

‘99 per cent of procurement from Indian industries’

The defence ministry also accorded AoN for Medium Speed Marine Diesel Engine under Make-I category, under which 90 per cent funding will be done by the Centre.

This is the first time India is venturing into the development and manufacturing of such engines indigenously.

AoN was also accorded for the Indian Air Force’s proposal for Long Range Stand-Off Weapon (LRSOW) which would be indigenously designed, developed and integrated on Su-30 MKI aircraft.

Approval was further given for procurement of 155mm/52 caliber ATAGS along with high-mobility vehicles and gun-towing vehicles for the Indian Army.

The ATAGS has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) along with the Kalyani Group and the TATA Advanced Systems Private Limited.

The ministry also accorded AoN for procurement of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Mk-III from the HAL for the Indian Coast Guard.

The ministry said that, including Thursday’s proposals, the total AoN granted for capital acquisition in financial year 2022-23 is over Rs 2.71 lakh crore, of which 99 per cent of procurement will be sourced from Indian industries.

Source: The Print