The Defence Path - 2015
With strength of over 1.3 million active personnel, Indian armed forces are the world's 3rd largest military force and the largest standing volunteer army in the world. Indian armed forces have been involved in several military operation since independence and with increased cross border terrorism a lot has been demanded of the forces. With China racing away in numbers and technology the demand for modernizing and strengthening the armed forces has been a major issue. Right from the start the new Modi led government has meant business and has taken several steps to bolster the presence of the forces.
The government presented it ‘Union Budget’ for the fiscal year 2015 on 28th February. Tabling the budget, The finance Minister has hiked the defence budget for FY 2015-16 by 9.46 per cent to Rs 2,46,727 crore, which is around Rs 23,357 crore more than the revised estimates for the current financial year that stand at Rs 2,22,370 crore.
The armed with this would receive a increased of 7.9 % for the fiscal year than the last year. This small increase is grossly inadequate to give a boost to military modernization that has been stagnating for over a decade. With China racing away this rise is not to boost of any significant changes to be made for the armed forces. The budget allocation by Chinese for the last fiscal year was upwards of $130 billion.
With the allotted $40 billion a major part of it around $22 billion is accounted to for the welfare of the heart of armed forces, the soldiers. This includes the salary, the pensions and for various other benefits the government has to account for. This means only a very small account of around $15-$16 billons effectively is left for the modernizing work. With a void in almost all fields catching up with China is a lot demanding. With the IAF losing its “Fighter Squadron” numbers sharply major decisions have to be made immediately, with China fielding several nuclear powered Submarines in the IOR (Indian Ocean Region) even the navy’s calling out for urgent reforms and faced with severe shortage in the artillery wing the Army’s waiting for its cut from the allotted budget.
The very first priority would now be given towards signing the very long delayed MMRCA deal which would effectively strength the IAF. With Boeing threatening to increase the agreed amount for the Apache attack helicopters and the Chinook heavy lift helicopters it’s very crucial the government signs a deal this fiscal year. With MMRCA deal demanding a major chunk of this deal it’s pretty demanding presented the scenario for other major deals to happen this year. And not only does the procurement matters setting up the required infrastructure and squadrons for the same requires a cut of the budget. The army needs an urgent fill of Assault Rifles. Elaborate plans for inducing about 0.6 million was laid out by the army, and the urgency of sights BFJ also costs in billions, the recent F INSAS program demands about $8 billion. The BMS (Battlefield Management System) alone requires around $8 Billion if implemented. UAV, IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicles), F INSAS Program costs another $ 20 billion. Light Howitzers for the newly raised Mountain Regiment along with Light utility Helicopters is also an void that has to be addressed.
The new government has realized the need to project the power of India not only in the mainland but also to spread the power. With the major part of India’s economy standing on Imports/Exports the safeguarding of EEZ in IOR has been a major concern for the government. Realizing this the government has scaled up the modernization of Navy. Several key projects have been signed and several others are in the pipeline to transform Indian Navy into a blue water navy. With the navy left in dark for several decades the Navy’s cry for modernization and strengthening of fleet with urgent needs to be addressed. Transformation starting from procurement of US 2 amphibious to the Larger INS Vishal carrier (IAC-II) project and the need for nuclear powered attack submarines has to be addressed. With plans to build a nuclear powered Aircraft carrier known as IAC-II the budget allotted looks too demanding for the project. Navy has to address the underwater capabilities of the nation. Indian Navy has a elaborate plan of inducting several Diesel powered Submarines and has called out tenders for the Submarine project. The navy surely demands a very high share from the allotted budget. The budget also has to address the needs of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) which is the key in modernizing our forces. DRDO has several hundred projects under the roof and several other researches’s taking place to better the stand of Indian forces.
Every project needs to be addressed from the year a project/induction is signed by the government. A part of the budget is every year allotted to a sanctioned project until its completion or induction. With increased amount being allotted to the Defence ministry, India can boost of a more powerful and most importantly a modernized Force that is capable of withstanding an attack and if needed bouncing back attack on the enemy territory.
Editor Karthik Kakoor