New Delhi: A defence deal potentially worth Rs. 40,000 crore, one of the biggest of its kind to be approved by the Modi government, could be the highlight of Prime Minister’s visit to Russia beginning next week. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday cleared the purchase of five S-400 Triumf long-range air defence systems from Russia.
This issue is likely to be discussed during Mr. Modi’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In addition to this, the DAC also cleared six proposals worth about Rs. 26,000 crore.
Mr. Modi government has been leveraging defence deals to reach out and further strategic cooperation with other nations. During his visit to France last year, he surprised everyone with the announcement for the direct purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Security gave the final approval for the purchase of Apache and Chinook helicopters from the U.S. worth over $2.5 billion, in addition to other deals in the pipeline.
“The S-400 missiles will enhance the national air defence capability and will help in warding off threats from long ranges,” a senior Defence Ministry official said. He said the “exact cost would be negotiated during the procurement process.”
In other decisions, the DAC cleared the procurement of six additional Pinaka Multi-Barrel Rocket Launch Systems (MRLS) for Rs.14,600 to be jointly built by Tata Power Company Ltd (TPCL), Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML). Officials said that Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), which developed the system, had been asked to continue development of newer systems to meet future requirements as Pinaka has proven its mettle.
The Army will also get 571 light bullet-proof vehicles to be used in counter-insurgency operations for Rs.310 crore, 120 trawls for T-72 and T-90 tanks for Rs.50 crore and two electronic warfare systems costing Rs.425 crore for the mountains to be developed by DRDO and produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
For the Navy, change in categorisation has been accorded for five fleet support ships, the proposal for which was cleared in July last year.
Hindustan Shipyard Limited is the designated shipyard to build them with foreign assistance of Rs.9,000 crore and these ships will be larger than the Deepak class tankers in service with on-board workshops.