India’s Defence Purchases –– An Exclusive IDC Report. 

New Delhi, 06 June 2001 

IDC is happy to offer Defence Consultancy and Data Upgrades as a National Service

India is all set and will finally end up spending some 10 billion dollars on arms purchases from abroad in the next few years and defence suppliers will find the list interesting. The Government has already announced that private sector firms will be permitted to participate in the Defence sector and Foreign Direct Investment up to 26% will be allowed. The scope is vast though Russia is well off the mark and USA must be carrying out an analysis. President Bush and his team are known supporters of the Military Industrial Complex.

BMS a labour organization has objected and so the detailed guidelines are still to be framed, but the list below shows the trends and opportunities of the main equipment and ancillaries that will be needed.

Regrettably MOD does not allow Consultancies and the serving officers and the bureaucrats in MOD are far too busy to make purchase decisions with any in depth analysis. Price negotiations are generally made on the run. Hence dealing with Russia has been easy as half the time the Armed Forces have to take what is offered. Furthermore, in the aftermath of Operations Vijay and Safed Sagar in Kashmir in 1999, Indian defence planners went on a spending spree for conventional equipment purchases for the country’s three armed services. IDC presumes BARC did the same for the nuclear arsenal it holds for the Armed forces.

The list below, which has been compiled by IDC from media reports in the recent past, contains the main items being procured, juxtaposed with IDC’s exclusive analysis. We have chosen to highlight these procurements now as some of these are being discussed for finalisation at the Joint Commission meeting between Sergei Ivanov, DPM Ila Klebanov and India’s Defence Minister Jaswant Singh in St Petersburg in early June.

The weather must be lovely for the discussions and the path has been cleared by the Defence Secretary Yogendra Narian who went ahead to Moscow just after he went to Israel to tie up those purchases with a delegation. The file work for Russia was complete in April for most of the acquisitions but the Joint meeting was post poned because of Tehelka and George Fernandes’ resignation.


  • 50 SU 30 aircraft to be purchased from IAPO and subsequent manufacture of 140 by HAL in India. This is the largest deal signed and will cost the nation over 2.5 billion dollars.

  • The LCA has completed 12 flights and is a long way away with many imponderables and hence HAL team has just discussed the modalities.

  • MRBLs. –– One battery of BM 9A52 Smerch 300 mm multiple-barrel rocket launchers, which can land saturation fire up to 90km. It can decimate high-value targets in the rear of the battlefield, such as command and control centers, fuel dumps and vehicle concentrations. It is understood a trial unit is in India and will augment the GRAD M that were used with great effect in the Kargil war. The DRDO Pinaka is under trials and is still low powered and slow.

  • Howitzers –– Up to 200 Bofors-type FH-77B 155 mm towed howitzers worth $250 million or equivalent to add to the 310 units bought off-the-shelf in 1986. The Bofors contract has expired and the Government has been slow to support India’s Artillery. Gen Pervez Musharraf and Gen S Padmanabhan are both Artillery officers, so IDC recalls what India’s former Chief of the Army Staff Gen K V Krishna Rao had commented earlier, “In the 1971 war Pakistan had heavier caliber weapons and used these to considerable effect… As in the 1965 conflict, the infantry found it difficult to stand against the devastating fire of the US supplied Pakistani Artillery, in most cases. The need for heavy caliber long range weapons was much felt by the Indian Forces”. Yet the needs of the Artillery were neglected in favour of the Armoured units. It is against this backdrop we know that Indian Army took 12 years to carry out selection of a 155 mm Howitzer gun and finally got Government to sign the contract for 310 FH 77 155 mm Bofors in Mar 1986 for 700 million dollars. These guns saved the day in the Kargil War. The purchase however led to a scandal of pay offs involving the Bofors Agent Win Chaddha, involvement of the Hinduja brothers of UK and Italian businessman Ottavio Quatrochhi, now absconding in Malaysia. The matter is in Indian courts, but the gun has proved itself to be world class beyond doubt and IDC wonders why these were not co-manufactured especially as the Army is familiar with this good Howitzer. In fact the Army cannibalised so many pieces for Kargil and the need for more is evident. India also failed to get a weapon locating radar for counter bombardment and Pakistan caused most casualties by their counterfire on India’s artillery. India fired 250,000 155mm rounds in the Kargil war.

  • Ammo rounds of 120mm, 130mm, 155mm and 160mm caliber worth more than $7 million have been procured from Israel and South Africa. Some were destroyed in recent fires in ammunition depots.

  • 10,000 Krasnopol-M 155 mm laser-guided artillery projectiles worth $ 15.5 million from Russia and 8 systems have been purchased and high altitude trials carried out.

  • Possibility of acquiring initial 120 self-propelled howitzers, each comprising a Denel/LIW-built T-6 turret containing a 155mm/520 calibre gun and mounted on the Arjun MBT’s armoured hull. The system, called Bhim had achieved a sustained rate of fire of 116 rounds at a desert firing range in Pokhran in western India. The cost of procuring 520 such howitzers eventually is estimated at $972 million. Much is not known of the progress.

  • 310 T-90 MBTs with the Reflecks anti tank missile and B 31 diesel engine worth 700 million dollars. This deal for import of 120 has begun and local production has been finalized and special vehicles like the BREM 1 and 1MR 2 MA will come with them from Uralgrad Zavod. Some issues still to be resolved will be discussed at the Joint meet.

  • 250 AGS-17 lightweight automatic grenade launchers from Russia at a cost of $3.5 million.

  • 150 new landmine-resistant armoured vehicles worth $14 million to augment 90 such Cassipir trucks already imported from South Africa. IDC learned that the first lot have done well and although they were second hand but well reconditioned.

  • Four Zoopark 2 counter-battery S 300 PMU1 low to high altitude systems with radars from Russia and the Green Pine from Israel. Israeli media reported supplies have begun and could be for DRDO or up to 150 S-300 V anti – ballistic missile launchers and their related command and control systems worth $1.4 billion, along with the Israeli ‘Green Pine’ ballistic missile early warning radar system are under discussion

  • 200 frequency-hopping radios worth $7 million

  • 200 of the latest Gen-3 thermal-imaging devices worth $6 million

  • 180 ELTA-built EL/M-2140 tripod-mounted battlefield surveillance radars worth $65 million that can detect enemy movement a least 5 km away.

  • Up to six IAI Malat built Searcher Mk II Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and their ground control units worth $46.5 million from Israel, for landing accurate fire on enemy gun positions in the battlefield. The Searcher MkII has a height ceiling of nearly 30,000 feet and the Artillery awaits their arrival.

  • Up to 45 2S6 Tunguska M-1 mobile gun / missile V-SHORADS type systems indicating importance of Air Defence, some of which have arrived.

  • 155 VY-72 B ARVs from ZTS Tees Martin of Slovakia for $ 723,000 each and 42 WZT-3 ARVs, built by Bumar –Labedy, from CENZIN of Poland for $723,000 each State –owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd will build another 400 such vehicles.

  • India has a contract with Soltam of Israel to upgrade an initial 35 Soviet-supplied M-46 130 mm field guns to 155 mm /45-calibre for about $238,095 each. A further 550 M –46s will be upgraded by India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board.

  • Three Krivak III-class, Project 1135.6 guided missile frigates –– INS Talwar, Trishul and Tabar worth $600 million. The third was launched in the presence of the Defence Secretary end May 2001. Normally a lady does the honours and the Embassy in Moscow helped out. The ship is to have Indian equipment and Wartsila generators etc and the coordination has delayed the commissioning. The crew has been ready for some time under the Command of Captain S Soni.

  • Two Type 877 EKM Kilo-class SSK Submarines worth $ 388 million, plus one Amur-Class SSK have been offered as India’s own Submarine building programme has been a mess since the HDW scandal. The Scorpene Type 75 is delayed.

  • Up to 200 Novator 3M54E Klub Club supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles in the three Kilo class under going changes and refit in Admiralty Shipyard at St Petersburg, Krivacks and the Sindushastra and the Type 17. The Indian Navy is truly excited about this missile and calls it the Russian Tomahawk.

  • RAFAEL –built 7 Barak anti-missile defence systems for installation on the Indian Navy’s carrier INS Viraat and the INS Brahmaputra and some other ships.  

  • DCN –– The Mazagoan Docks and the GOI are negotiating to build 3 Scorpene submarines in India as the Type 75. Cost could go up to $ 800 million and then Pakistan and India will have common builders of submarines.

  • Four Kamov Ka-31, air borne early warning helicopters worth $28 million, and six Ka-28 ASW helicopters worth $18 million all of which will be delivered soon.

  • The converted and refurbished aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov free but with a refit priced at $500 million, which will host a N-010 active phased array fire control and surveillance radar, a 13’ ski ramp and arrestor aircraft recovery system. The decision is far gone and chances of back tracking seem remote but Indian Defence has seen many dramas and media hypes it up. IDC adds: when a senior Air Force officer asked why the nation needs a carrier a young Naval officer said, “Sir you know where Hindon is.” He said of course. He politely asked, “Sir can it move.” and the senior IAF officer said, “don’t be stupid.” Then the junior officer asked, “Sir, do you know where INS Viraat is, and where it will be tomorrow.” The senior officer was furious so the junior said “ Sir, we need the carrier because it is the only airfield that can move and support the Navy,” and that in simple terms is the short answer.

  • Up to 66 ANPK MiG-295MK carrier-borne fighters armed with Vympel RVV-AE R-77 medium range, active radar-guided air-to-air missiles; the R-73 E infra-red guided dogfight missiles, Zvesda / Strella Kh-31A anti=ship and Kh-31P anti-radar missiles; and Kh-35 Uran E anti-ship missiles for the Gorshkov and the air defence ship to be built at Cochin. Only when Gorshkov is finalized can the design for the ADS be frozen.

  • IAI / MALAT’s Heron long-endurance UAVs are on offer as DRDO’s Nishant cannot climb above 10,000 feet and is not operational.

  • Six new-build Tu-142 Bear F maritime patrol / ASW aircraft armed with Alfa and Uran-E anti-ship cruise missiles to supplement the eight currently in service with the Indian Navy are on offer.

  • Six Tuploev TU –22M3 strategic bombers, which are at the Gorbunov-based plant in Kazan, southern Russia are on offer and ready to be delivered from Russia’s large excess stock.

  • Two IL-76 based A-50 AEW & C aircraft, and four IL-78 aerial refueling tankers worth $388 million are on offer. Air Chief ACM A Y Tipnis has witnessed trials as VCAS in October at the Kubinka air base near Moscow.

  • One squadron (18 aircraft) of Dassault Aviation Mirage 2000D tandem-seat fighter-bombers “hard wired” for carrying nuclear missiles as part of its minimum nuclear deterrent, are on offer. India is already buying French equipment for the IAF upgrades.

  • Ten additional Mirage 2000 TH to replace accident losses and as part of the war wastage reserves are due to arrive soon. The IAF has lost at least three/four of 49 single-seat Mirage 2000s inducted into service in the mid 1980s. France has reportedly received the major payment and a small scandal involves Keyser Corporation fighting for its commission in French courts.

  • Hectic efforts have also been launched by IAF to procure add-on chaff/flare countermeasures suites and missiles approach warning systems from ELISRA of Israel, which will be retrofitted on to the IAF’s Mi-8T and Mi-17 helicopters and Mi-25 helicopter gunships.

  • An avionics and self-protection suite upgrade worth $25 million for 20 Mi-35P and six Mi-25 helicopter gunships. This contract has gone to IAI / Tamam

  • A comprehensive upgrade of the IAF’s 20 Mi-35 P helicopter-gunships that includes a day /night imaging and target designation system supplied by Elbit Computers, ELISRA, EI Op and ELTA of Israel.

  • The IAF is also expected to procure additional laser-guidance kits for its 1,000 lb bombs from Elbit Computers of Israel.

  • The ELTA subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries is likely to supply pod-mounted EL/M-2060 synthetic aperture radars for the IAF’s Mirage 2000 H fighters.

  • The IAF has also sought permission to procure an initial 66 AJTs for the IAF and 11 AJTs for the India Navy worth $1.38 billion, as well as proceed with the mid–life avionics upgrade of its fleet of 120 SEPECAT /HAL-built Jaguar and 165 ANPK MIG / HAL-built MiG-27 M strike aircraft, and 65 MiG –29B-12 air superiority fighters. BAe was close to clinching the deal but India wishes to wear them down and sweat it out on the price as the IAF seems to be helpless and accommodating.

  • Satellite –– For enhancing round-the-clock satellite surveillance, India is fabricating a satellite, called Cartosat-1, with 2.5-metre resolution to monitor the Line of Control in Kashmir. It is believed that the vital photo imagery-gathering sensors for these satellites will be procured off-the-shelf from EI Op of Israel. Total cost of this satellite is estimated at US$ 27.9 million

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