As India faces complex security threats, the government has firmed up a mega plan to spend $130 billion to bolster combat capability of the armed forces in the next five to seven years, according to an official document.
Official sources said that the government has decided on a broad plan to speed up modernisation of the army, navy and the air force under which a range of critical weapons, missiles, fighter jets, submarines and warships will be procured in the next few years.
They said that the government’s immediate priority is to fast-track infantry modernisation, including procuring 2,600 infantry combat vehicles and 1,700 future ready combat vehicles for the Indian army. Another key priority is to procure 110 multirole fighter aircraft for the IAF.
“The government will spend $130 billion for fleet modernisation in the next 5-7 years across all armed forces,” the official document stated.
The armed forces have been pushing for adequate allocation of funds so that they are well prepared to deal with the possibility of a “two-front” war on both northern and western borders.
Sources said that the government is aware of China significantly ramping up its air and naval powers, adding the aim is to equip both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy with capabilities at par with its adversaries.
To bolster its operational capability, the navy has already finalised a plan to have 200 ships, 500 aircraft and 24 attack submarines in the next 3-4 years. At present, the navy has around 132 ships, 220 aircraft and 15 submarines.
The sources said that the government is also determined to significantly enhance IAFs overall combat capabilities and a detailed plan is being finalised. The government is also working on a mega defence project to make the airspace over almost all its major cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, virtually impregnable, the sources said.
It is also inducting the first batch of its intercontinental ballistic missile system — Agni V — which is expected to significantly bolster the country’s air defence system. The missile, with a strike range of 5,000 km, is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Very few countries, including US, China, Russia, France and North Korea, have intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In its missile armoury, India currently has Agni-1 with a 700 km range, Agni-2 with a 2,000-km range, Agni-3 and Agni-4 with 2,500 km to more than 3,500-km range.
The sources said that the government’s focus will be to develop the domestic defence industry and key policy initiatives are expected to be rolled out for it in the next couple of months.