The defence ministry will be seeking additional funds from the finance ministry for the current financial year. Top authorities of the defence ministry have asked their officials to hasten clearance of some major schemes for the procurement of new platforms for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy.
IAF, which has a fleet strength of 45 squadrons, faces the danger of rapid depletion with more than 300 ageing MiG-21 fighters scheduled to be phased out in the next two years. Its replacement — the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft — will be ready for final induction only in 2011.
Though the Navy has finalised a $1.2 billion deal with the French company DCN-International for building six Scorpene submarines under licence at Mazagaon Docks, the deal is yet to receive clearance from the cabinet committee on security.
There was a 16 per cent hike in this year’s defence budget. Officials said the capital outlay was only enough to take care of the already signed deals like the Advance Jet Trainers, Phalcon AWACS and aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, leaving a paltry Rs 4,000 crore for new purchases.
Officials said a major review of the weapons procurement system had been started to speed up arms purchase as officials in the ministry had been directed not to slow down while clearing new orders.
As part of new measures, the ministry has directed close monitoring of various modernisation schemes to ensure that capital outlay funds aren’t surrendered.
Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee has directed his officials to fasten the work on setting up of the country’s first-ever National Defence University, with the land for the purpose being identified soon.
“The first step toward this would be taken in the current financial year,” officials said.
They also said the government was working on total parity of pensioners between those who retired on January 1, 1986 and before, and modified parity for those who retired on January 1, 1996.
They revealed an inter-ministerial committee had been set up to examine the issue by the department of pensions.