Defense Sector Agenda 2019-24

Giving a brief look at the condition of our forces, it is saddening to see our men struggle with basic necessities in their daily activities at the cost of their lives. Let us analyse the cases where our forces are doing well and where we need to improve.

The defense budget of the armed forces is just 1.4% of GDP. The developed countries have 3%-5% aggregate.

The main things in focus are Acquisition, Modernization, Reforms in the overall structure of the defense sector.

The main projects in pipeline are 6 Submarines, 50 Fighter Jets for the Navy itself. We need 400 Fighter Jets for Indian Air Force (IAF), 800 Helicopters for all the three sectors of defense. Future plans for field artillery rationalization plan are given by the army.

Reforms are needed in various sectors

  • Maintaining the right size of the army
  • Genuine integration and co-ordination of all the sectors.
  • Production sector requirements

Comparing all the three arms of the defense, the army needs the most help in transformation to the future world.

  1. According to Global Firepower Index (2019), India ranks 4th in the world in size of the army. The parameters include the size,finance, recruitment etc.
  2. According to equipment standards, India ranks 25th, which includes mainly the Armour-ed Fighting Vehicles (AFV’s).
  3. According to self propelled artillery, India ranks , which mainly includes fire power of land forces.

Nearly 13 studies have been conducted for the Indian Army but no fruitful results have come. There should be a vision as to what we have and what we wish to have in the near future. Overall, India has seen some traction in the last 5 years.

The Navy and Air-force rank 4th in this sector therefore much focus has to be given to the army unit.

India stands 2nd largest importer of arms and ammunition from all over the world but no-where near in exports.

India has a target of 75% indigenization but has achieved only 50% in the recent years.We have Arjun (Indigenous ), T-72 (Imported), T-92 (Imported), M-777 Howitzer (Imported), AK-203 (Indigenous).

Armour-ed Core Mechanised Forces :-

  • T-72 need replacements throught.
  • Future Infantry Combat Vehicles have no signs of progress in the near future.
  • T-90 (400) – Order has been placed.
  • IFV – 2600 – Need replacement.

Navy :-

  • Importance on Indo-Pacific region for stratergic ties.
  • The PM has engaged fruitfully in the Indian Ocean Region.

Navy is leading in indigenisation but more reforms are required as per the following data.

  • Float sector – 90%
  • Move Sector  – 60%
  • Fight Sector – 30-35%

The most desired Minesweepers project has no ground roots.

Due to committed liabilities and the budget constraints, there are hardly any funds left for the new project or for their development and research.

Maritime Domain :

  1. Increasing the quality of the ammunition not only gives us a multiplier edge effect but also give us last mile benefit.
  2. Setup an Information Fusion Center to create more awareness of the Maritime Domain Awareness.
  3. Incentivise the private sector and create an environment in which they nurture themselves to develop their production.
  4. Provide an ”enabling environment” will always give India and upper hand inn global rankings of the world.
  5. Institutionalized approach is required.

Air Defense System :-

  • In short range category, the ADS Russian IGLA-S is selected.
  • DRDO – Quick reaction Surface-to-Air missiles are being developed.
  • BARAK-8 is redily available.
  • L73 , ZU, Z3 are also ready.
  • The AWACS, Mid-Air Refullers and other technical systems are a priority for the air force.

It is suggested that the forces initiate their own reforms, save money, increase efficiency, change operational methods through integrated battle groups and others methods possible.

There is a big need of National Security Strategy to crystallize the focus areas to all the 3 forces which will make necessary procurements easily and can be tracked for progress.

All the 3 forces need clarity, co-ordination, synergy, accountability, responsibility to commonise the requirement of all the 3 forces.

Individual reforms in all the 3 forces are always welcome but they will have to be co-ordinated. This method also helps in saving resources and helps to put up a united front.

There is an urgent need for Ministry of Defense so as to give teeth to the tiger. We also need experts in services to deal with the issues of procurement.We also need to streamline the defense procurement procedure and keep timelines.

There is a high necessity of  White Paper Stratergy to setup accountability in the process.

We cannot blame the forces as all the decisions are taken by the Ministry of Defense who are partially aware of the ground situations. Civilian bureaucrats take the major decisions for the armed forces.

The current situation demands :

  • Forces should be equally made part of the decision making body of the government.
  • A structure where the experts and other core members are needed who actually decide the future of our forces.
  • Once the best arms and ammunition are acquired, they can also be used for internal disturbances which will give a bang-for-the-buck.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Intelligence Forces and the Police have all to play a united role in their duties.

The nature of warfare has changed in the recent times and the main factors are  1) Cyber security 2) Space Intelligence 3) Special Operations.

India has 9 Defense Public Sector Undertaking Units (DPSU’s) and Ordnance factories. Much of the money gets wasted as the orders are received by DPSUs and not private entities which satisfy only 40% of the requirements. These DPSU’s themselves need internal reforms and increased output capability.

Main key points to take away :-

  • Defense research needs to be revamped.
  • Private sector should be involved responsibly.
  • Biasness and favoritism towards various companies should be stopped.
  • Reduce cost wasting by giving equal foothold to public and private sector.
  • Improve organisation and functioning.
  • The procurement procedures should be improved.
  • Draw best out of the defense industry and empower the forces in the best possible manner.

One Response


    Good information. Thanks.

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