The Minister of Defence, Manohar Parrikar, today said that the government had signed defence orders worth 1,25,000 crore in the last two years and by the end of 2016, it would touch a figure of 2,80,000 crore, indicating that there was no drawdown of defence equipment purchases.
Addressing a press conference at Defexpo 2016 in Goa, Parrikar said that a letter of intent for an order of 32,000 crore were being signed for shipyards and another order worth 44,000 crore would be signed in the next couple of months. He mentioned that orders worth 94,000 crore were in the contract negotiation committee stage. In all, this year about 1,38,000 crore orders would be signed.
The Minister clearly indicated that priority would be given for IDDM (‘Indian Designed, Developed and Manufactured’) category wherein the indigenous content could be up to 60 per cent. The polices were being evolved and it would not be the most perfect one, he said, and added that the IDDM would be reviewed after six months.
He denied that the budgetary allocation for capital acquisition had reduced. “Modernisation of the armed forces is of paramount importance,” he said and mentioned how the current budget would take care of the orders that have already been placed. For orders which are going to be placed now, the payment schedule would come up in a phased manner – in two- to fiveyear time. Due to competition and technological advancements, the cost of acquisition has been coming down.
Export growth: The Minister stated that defence exports were growing substantially and it had touched about 2,000 crore this year, from a figure of 500 crore to 600 crore. “We have told our companies that to make available 90 per cent of the production for domestic consumption and to export 10 per cent and this would help them replenish capital requirement.”
Rafale deal: Asked whether the Rafale deal is on or not, the Minister categorically stated: ‘We are very serious about it. We should finalise this soon but I cannot give a time line.” There were certain issues, including money, that needed to be sorted out.
Artillery guns: The Dhanush artillery gun would be inducted by the year end. The artillery division of the Indian Army would be inducting three guns after Bofors and that the government would give orders for bulk production this year.
Tejas: On the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Parrikar said that the ‘fly-by-wire’ is one of the best in the world and that the Tejas squadron would be formed either late this year or early next year. The production of Tejas also will be ramped up to 16 units a year.
Pathankot: The Minister emphatically stated that the Defence Ministry had completely denied permission for the joint investigation team of India and Pakistan to visit the Pathankot airbase which was recently attacked by terrorists. “We have completely isolated the area, barricaded the crime scene and there is no access to anyone into the airbase. As for as the team’s visit to the crime scene, it is for the National Investigation Agency to answer.”
Goa as Defexpo venue: Despite a lot of skepticism, the show had begun on a successful note, even with some teething problems. The majority of Goans have accepted the fact that Defexpo adds economic value to the state and would conduct the same here.