Reduced Funds expected for Armed Forces in the upcoming Union Budget
Amidst the ongoing tension with China across the borders, Indian Defence Forces are expecting a major proportion in the Union budget to be presented by Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister of India. The defense forces have planned to procure many types of equipment in the near future, but the projects have either stopped or slowed down due to a lack of funds. A substantial rise in defense allocation is expected to be announced in this budget.
The future deals include procurement plans for transport aircraft, helicopters, and fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force, submarines, helicopters, and warships for the Indian Navy and artillery guns, snipers, assault rifles, and specialized vehicles for the Indian Army. Since India is still recovering from the pandemic and trying hard to revive its economy, a large spike in defense funds may not be the reality.
India’s Defence Budget increased by 1.82 % in the last financial year, 2020-2021, amounting to Rs. 3.37 Lakh Crores. This amount did not include the pension for retired defense personnel. While in 2019-2020, it saw a rise of 3%, amounting to Rs. 3,400 crores. The capital budget allotted to the Indian Air Force was reduced from Rs. 44,869 crores to Rs. 43,281 crores. Its plan to procure 200 new fighter jets may experience a setback after this decision.
The NDA led Central Government is planning to spend $ 130 Billion to increase the combat capability of armed forces in the upcoming years. The Union Budget will be announced by the Finance Minister of India on 01st February 2021.
LCH ready to offer its services to Armed Forces
Indian Armed Forces are expected to receive ‘Made in India’ attack helicopters by the end of March. The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has proved its mettle by performing exceptionally well in the tests conducted at high altitude areas. Indian forces, currently engaged in a face-off with China on all three fronts, will get a major boost by its addition.
Chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) R Madhavan confirmed that the production of LCH is in full swing and all the required certificates have been acquired. 2 LCH, one each for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force, will be supplied even before the placement of final orders. The tests of LCH were conducted at the hilly areas of Ladakh, and the helicopters demonstrated their ability by operating with an adequate payload. It successfully landed at the forward bases of Siachen at an altitude of 4,700 meters with a 500 kg load.
HAL has planned to put LCH on display at the Aero India show. It is expected that many foreign customers may go for its test flights, as LCH has good potential in this region. India missed the services of this type of helicopters during the Kargil War. Hence, LCH is designed in such a way that it will offer full services in high altitude regions. It weighs 5.5 tonnes and is equipped with a 20 mm turret gun and 70 mm rockets.
Currently, procurement orders have been placed for 15 LCH, 10 for the Indian Air Force, and 5 for the Indian Army.
Tejas Mk2 to be equipped with Indian, French Russian, and Israeli Weapon Systems
Indian Air Force will be using the existing weapons equipped in different types of aircraft in the fleet for the upcoming Tejas Mk2 fighter jet. More focus will be on the indigenous weapons along with some modern standoff weapons equipped in the Rafale fighter jets procured from France. The weapon package that has been frozen for this 17.5-tonne fighter jet includes weapons from Israel, French, and Russian partners.
Tejas Mk2 will have a long-range, air-launched, standoff attack missile named Storm Shadow or the SCALP. This missile has cleared the tests and is developed by the French firm MBDA. The recently inducted Rafale fighter jet is fitted with a subsonic 1.3-ton cruise missile having a range of over 500 km. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has selected this weapon system to be integrated with the Tejas Mk2 fighter fleet.
ADA is focusing on Indian weapons to be a part of this fleet, including Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW), RudraM 1, RudraM 2, and RudraM3 Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARM). For Air to Air missile system, Tejas will have Astra Mk1 and Astra Mk2 BVR-AAMs, having ranges of 110 km and 160 km, respectively. Astra Mk3 (340 km), which is a long-range variant of BVR-AAM, will be integrated after its development.
Tejas Mk2 may be equipped with the BrahMos-NG cruise missile and the Kh-31 Anti-ship missile, both developed by Russia. Israel based SPICE-2000 bomb used in Balakot Air Strike and Crystal Maze air to surface missiles may be included in the weapon system of Tejas Mk2 fleet after clearing more tests. This missile system is currently equipped in the IAF’s Mirage-2000 fleet. More weapons will be included in this fleet in the future as per the requirements and consultations with the Indian Air Force.