India approves purchase of military equipment worth $8.5bn


India on Thursday approved purchases of missiles, helicopters, artillery guns and electronic warfare systems worth $8.5 billion as it sought to add more teeth to its military.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the top government body for capital acquisition approvals for the Indian military, approved the orders worth 705 billion rupees ($8.52bn) for all its services, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

All orders would be placed with Indian companies, it said, keeping with a push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to boost domestic defence manufacturing.

Flanked by fellow nuclear-armed powers China and Pakistan and running tensions with Chinese troops along its disputed Himalayan frontier, India has been seeking to modernise its mostly Soviet-era military equipment.

The focus on the navy, which accounted for approvals worth 560 billion rupees on Thursday, comes after India expressed concern last year over Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean.

The list of purchases approved included 200 additional BrahMos missiles, 50 utility helicopters and electronic warfare systems for the navy.

BrahMos is a supersonic missile with a range of around 300 km that has been jointly developed by India and Russia. All three Indian military services have been using versions of the missile for over a decade.

The DAC also approved manufacturing of a diesel marine engine, which will be a first for India.

It approved the air forces proposal for a long range stand-off weapon to be used by the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet.

The army got the nod to buy 307 units of 155mm/52 caliber towed artillery guns, along with high mobility vehicles and gun towing