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By Bulbul Singh

01 Nov 12. India has cleared another weapons purchase package worth $1.2 billon which includes purchase of night vision devices for the Army and underwater Special Operations Vessels for the Navy. This is in addition to another defence procurement package cleared this month worth $1.6 billion for the purchase of Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles and Invar missiles for the Russian-made T-90 tanks. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) the highest body on defence procurement in the Indian defence ministry cleared the purchase package late October. The Indian army has acute shortage of night vision capabilities. Compared to China and Pakistan the Indian Army has lower numbers of night vision capabilities and the Indian defence ministry is now focused on fast track basis to buy variety of night vision devices.

In the latest package to be cleared for procurement, 2500 units of handheld thermal imagers worth $160 million will be bought from the overseas market. The order is likely to be increased. The Indian Army is to provide at least two long-range reconnaissance and observation systems and battlefield surveillance radars (LORROS) systems in each battalion in Indian Army’s 1.1 million troops.

The Indian Army also plans to buy advanced third generation night vision devices. Most of The night-vision devices in use are of second-generation ones, unlike the third-generation equipment deployed by China.

The DAC also cleared the construction of two underwater Special Operations Vessel at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd for the marine commandos. The other purchases which got clearance include purchase of two Dorniers for the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd; Search and Rescue Equipment for the Indian Air Force; and Nuclear Chemical and Biological Prevention Equipment for the Army.

Purchases From RUSSIA

Earlier this month the Cabinet Committee on Security,(CCS) the highest body of the Indian government on defence purchases headed by the Prime Minister had cleared a proposal to acquire Russian-origin 10,000 Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles for theMechanized Infantry and Infantry battalions of the Army.

Sources in the Indian Army said, there have been problems with the Konkurs-M anti tank missiles especially with their thermal imaging system and launch tubes. However, the defence ministry went ahead with the purchases. Currently Indian Army uses several thousand of these missiles though direct import and the missiles are also manufactured by state-owned Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL) from KBP Tula of Russia. The Indian Army needs around 50, 000 anti-tank guided missiles for the infantry combat vehicles. Besides, around 12,000 Konkurs missiles have reached the end of their 10-year shelf life because the solid fuel of the missiles have completed their shelf life and need replacement.

The CCS also cleared the purchase of 25,000 Invar missiles for the T-90 tank fleet. Under the proposal, 10,000 Invar missiles would be broughtfrom Russian manufacturers and there will be an agreement for license-producing 15,000 missiles by the Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) under Transfer of Technology (ToT). Last year the former Indian Army Chief General V K Singh had told the Indian defence ministry that there was critical shortage of ammunition which included the Invar missiles. The CCS had also cleared the purchase of 200 air-launched variants of the Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The purchases were done ahead of the scheduled visit of Russian President Putin to New Delhi, which however was postponed by over two months. Analysts here say the Indian defence ministry have been working overtime for the last one year to clear ammunition purchase programmes from Russia and have already contracted purchases worth over $3 billion including joint production of rockets for the Russian made Smerch Multi-barrel Rocket Launchers.

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