NDA okayed Rs.1,60,000 crore proposals to modernise forces: Parrikar

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) The NDA government has sanctioned acquisition proposals worth over Rs.1,60,000 crore for modernisation of the armed forces since coming to power, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.

The minister, in his customary speech on the eve of Independence Day, also congratulated the scientists and technologists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other defence related establishments for “their good work in equipping our armed forces with the latest state-of-the-art weapons and equipment, developed and produced indigenously”.

“The government is well aware of the need to maintain all round vigil on the nation’s borders to prevent any misadventure from across the borders.

“Therefore, keeping our war machinery in readiness and to be able to mobilise troops to forward positions at a short notice is imperative,” Parrikar said.

He said “there is the need to constantly upgrade and modernise the weapon systems and equipment.”

Stating that the government had taken a number of steps “to equip our forces with the best of the arms currently available and are constantly striving to make most of them indigenously”, Parrikar said: “Since taking over, our government has so far sanctioned acquisition proposals worth over 1,60,000 crore rupees.”

Parrikar said the list includes over eight hundred 155 mm mounted artillery guns for the Indian Army worth nearly 16,000 crore rupees, and more ammunition purchased to enhance firepower.

While mentioning that the indigenously designed, developed and produced Akash Air Defence missile system was formally handed over to the Indian Air Force recently, the minister also referred to the deal for procuring 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

“Contract negotiations are also underway for procurement of 36 Rafale aircraft from France, to provide a major boost to the IAF’s operational capability,” he said.

Talking about the Indian Navy, Parrikar said efforts are on to build a “Blue Water Navy”.

“Recent undocking of India’s indigenous aircraft carrier in the making, INS Vikrant and the first of Scorpene submarines are important landmarks of our endeavour to build a Blue Water Navy,” he said.

Parrikar also said the commissioning of a number of marine police stations, naval bases including INS Sardar Patel and establishment of a new Coast Guard Air Enclave at Bhubaneswar would strengthen the coastal security of the country.

“The government is taking measures to equip the Navy with the state-of-the-art warships, submarines and naval helicopters.”

Among other things, Parrikar said that steps were being taken to make the Indian Army a “digitised force” and mentioned the launch of a special software system ARPAN, or Army Record Officers Process Automation, launched recently to digitise records of over 12 lakh junior commissioned officers and jawans.

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