The Indian Defence Ministry is taking serious measures to equip the Armed Forces as it proposes acquisition of new generation missiles for the Indian Army and Dornier aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Defence Ministry has proposed a $ 2.4 billion deal for the Indian Army for the procurement of Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missiles (QRSAMs). In addition, a deal for an additional 14 Dornier turboprop STOL utility aircraft for transportation purposes of IAF is expected to be cleared soon by the Defence Ministry.
The Indian Army has been aiming to replace its obsolescent Russian systems with new generation missiles. Hence, it seeks to acquire eight regiments of Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missiles (QRSAMs) to replace the ageing Russian Kvadrat systems. Once given clearance by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), this will Indian Army’s most expensive tender worth $ 2.4 billion.
The QRSAM deal for the army will have partnership and knowledge transfer clauses to ensure that a major part of the equipment is manufactured in India itself. The state-run Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) is to be the designated partner agency for the maintenance transfer of technology and will be involved in the deal for the production of the missiles.
The Indian Army has been desperate to upgrade its air Defence capabilities and it had even floated an RFI for these systems earlier this year. The Indian Army had specified that it was looking for a quick reaction system that can engage targets at a range of 15 km at a minimum altitude of 6,000 meters in less than six seconds. The current move is the second one in five years to obtain the QRSAMs. Global missile manufacturers including French MBDA and Israeli Rafale had responded to the RFI earlier.
As for upgrading the capabilities of the Army Air Defence (AAD), the Defence Ministry has already signed contracts for procuring Akash Missile Systems and steps were being taken for upgrading self-propelled air Defence and Schilka air Defence systems. The acquirement of the QRSAMs is much awaited by the army since the current SAM systems, including the Akash SAM system, are not up to the mark. With several launch failures and absence of advanced interception technology, the air Defence systems of the army need serious upgradation.
Regarding the acquisitions for the IAF, the DAC is expected to give clearance for the acquisition of 14 Dornier aircraft for its transport wing. The Dornier aircraft is to be procured from the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a cost of $ 200 million and it will be used in light transport roles. HAL is already involved in collaboration with the German aerospace manufacturer Dornier Flugzeugwerke. As for the IAF, it is planning on increasing its Dornier fleet from a current total of 41 units to 55 units.