Meeting critical need for arms
The delivery of two M777 Ultra Light Howitzers to India has brightened the prospects of upgradation of the army’s arsenal. The Modi government purchased 145 Ultra Light Howitzers from the US-based company BAE Systems for deployment in high-altitude areas especially along the China border. The deal had been stuck for years and despite several attempts, the UPA government could not clear the hurdles.
Just as the army is in critical need of artillery guns, the Indian Air Force is struggling to cope with a shrinking fighter squadron strength. The delay in the induction of Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’ has added to the problems. Producing a modern single engine combat jet has been identified as one of the key areas for the proposed strategic partnership policy under which private companies will be allowed to take part in mega projects like building a fighter jet or a submarine.
If the Modi government is able to bring in strategic partners, it will transform India’s defence industry. As of now, there are only 141 defence manufacturing units in the country which includes both public and private sector units. The three services procure over 65 per cent of their equipment from Indian sources. This has been the highest in recent years.