India Begins Purge On Arms Imports Worth Billions, Scraps Tenders For Coast Guard Choppers, Army Missiles

Amidst big Make in India push, more foreign deals face the axe in a follow-up meeting of Defence Acquisition Council on January 20

Photo Credit : IAF,

(Representative Photo) QRSAM: India reboots arms bazaar rules by insisting on Make in India

In a bid to push the Make in India agenda, the Ministry of Defence on January 14 is learnt to have foreclosed some significant military procurement programmes being pursued through the import route. 

The axed tenders include the over $1 Billion import of 14 helicopters for the Indian Coast Guard and the Quick Reaction Surface-to-air Missile System (QRSAM) for the Indian Army, highly-placed sources indicated. The QRSAM programme was also worth over a Billion Dollars. 

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired remotely by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is recovering from Covid. It was also attended by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and the three service chiefs. 

This step is part of a review of all military procurement programmes under the Buy Global category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure and its predecessor, the Defence Procurement Procedure, involving outright import of equipment. This has put proposed arms imports worth billions of dollars on the line. 

While there was no official word on this meeting, it is also reliably learnt that a follow-up meeting of the DAC is scheduled for January 20 to review more deals through the import route. Proposals reportedly on the chopping block include the import of 60 Kamov-226 helicopters for the Indian Army and the long-pending $1.3 Billion Very Short-Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) programme.

A Foreclosure and Deferment List reportedly includes the ongoing procurement programmes for Heavy Weight Torpedoes, refurbished MiG-29 fighters, Self-Propelled Air Defence Gun Missile System, towed 155 mm artillery, ship-borne unmanned systems and 6 additional P8I long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

The purpose of the review is to ascertain whether these programmes can be recast to give Indian Industry the lead. Proposals for Government-to-Government contracts under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route are also being reportedly reconsidered. 

The big review of import of military equipment has reportedly been taken up at the instance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has sought a bigger push to indigenous procurement. 

Following the Prime Ministerial directive for a more visible commitment to Atmanirbhar Bharat/Make in India agenda, an Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence is reported to have written to an advisory to all services. “All stakeholders may take an in-principle call that no import of defence items is going forward,” the Additional Secretary reportedly advised. 

The services and the Coast Guard had earlier been reportedly directed to prepare a list of procurements in-the-pipeline from foreign vendors which could be scrapped or put on hold.  

“There’s clarity that the Buy Indian (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured) category will get top billing. What will follow in order of priority is Make in India categories with transfer of technology from foreign vendors. The Buy Global category is to be the last resort in the event of critical operational necessity,” sources explained. 


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