India boosts arms modernisation after Mumbai.
India is speeding a nearly $1 billion (704 million pounds) domestic weapons development programme to modernise its armed forces, the defence research department said on Thursday, following renewed tensions with Pakistan over the attacks in Mumbai.The plans include inducting 124 main battle tanks for the Indian army by December
, the first of a batch of locally-made combat aircraft for the navy also by the end of the year, and unmaned aerial vehicles to boost border surveillance.
"There is a certain push now to complete projects on time and deliver the goods for low intensity battles or to counter bigger security threats in the region," Suranjan Pal, a spokesman of the government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation, said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan mounted after the attacks in Mumbai in November, which New Delhi said were carried out by Pakistani nationals and must have had support from Pakistani state agencies.
Since the Mumbai attacks, local media has highlighted the many antiquated weapons system that India has, from artillery to tanks, and poor surveillance capabilities.
"India's military capability had been shrinking as modernisation efforts were moving very slowly, but now there is more interest being shown," C. Uday Bhaskar, a strategic affairs expert, said.
The modernisation plans include developing the Agni-5 missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hitting targets 5,000 km (3,100 miles) away, and torpedoes and planes for the navy.
India is also one of the world's biggest arms importers, but government officials and experts said the priority was to boost indigenous capacity and reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.
"Foreign countries are generally not interested in sharing critical technology with us, so we are pushing more for indigenous development," Pal said.
The DRDO has often been criticised in the past by experts for delays on key projects, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS).
The naval version of the LCA will enter service in December this year (VDM)
while the air force will get 20 planes next year. The aircraft is a supersonic, all-weather fighter which has been under development for more than two decades.