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Posted at: Apr 11, 2018, 1:55 PM; last updated: Apr 11, 2018, 5:05 PM (IST)

Armed forces free to choose Indian or foreign equipment: Sitharaman

Armed forces free to choose Indian or foreign equipment: Sitharaman
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks at Defence Expo in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo credit: Twitter

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 11

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the armed forces had been given the choice to choose their equipment--Indian or imported--as per their needs.

Though India is looking to export some military equipment, it does not mean that the armed forces–the Army, IAF and the Navy–can be imposed with a kind of diktat to use only Indian equipment.

Sitharaman, while addressing the media at the ‘Def-expo-2108’ here, said: “I am also telling the forces to procure from the indigenous sources, but the forces are free to decide what they need for their readiness. They are free to choose their equipment.”

It is their call on how many Indian-produced missiles or equipment fits into their plans and I have to respect that, the Defence Minister said. “They are using indigenous products, may be not as much as we would want, however, there is a fine line. The forces will have to take a call on what they need,” Sitharaman said.

International think-tank, SIPRI, on March 12, reconfirmed that India, yet again, emerged as the biggest importer of weapons in the world, with around 70 per cent of its weapons being imported.

Talking about the ‘Def-expo’, she said this year they had been very clear that India would be a manufacturer of defence equipment and they had the potential to export.

“We have given an opportunity to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to have multiple space to display.

Answering a question on the forthcoming Defence Production Policy, Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production, said “The MoD had received over 100 comments on the draft DPP. We are examining these and with consultation with other ministries we will soon come out with the policy.”

Secretary Defence Sanjay Mitra while talking about the proposed amendment to the strategic partnership said, “We will take a call on what will be the involvement of Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).”

Producing world-class military equipment and also the country’s military readiness hinges upon the ‘strategic partnership’ model–a tie-up of Indian and foreign companies to produce weapons in India. Four crucial military items--fighter jets (both for the Navy and IAF), submarines, helicopters (for all three services) and new-generation tanks are listed under this. All requests for information (the first step in the tendering process) have been issued.   

Mitra assured that resources were adequate. Almost 33 per cent of India’s capital budget is for defence.

DRDO chairman S Christopher said they havd to focus on bigger UAVs.

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