Despite the new government’s announcement of an 18 percent increase in India’s defense spending for the budget year ending March 31, 2005, defense planners are asking the Defence Ministry to release more funds for defense acquisitions this year.
Since most of the acquisition funds allocated are earmarked for deals entered into by the former National Democratic Alliance government, which lost power in April’s general elections, a Defence Ministry official said, the ministry will ask the Finance Ministry to make available at least $1.5 billion to finance new defense purchases.
The latest report of the Indian parliament’s Standing Committee on Defense, tabled in parliament Aug. 20, said that despite the higher allocation for defense, the Defence Ministry would have to seek additional funds.
Defense spending for the April 2004-March 2005 budget year is set for $16.79 billion, up from $14.15 billion for the preceding year.
Funds allocated for the current budget year will pay part of the bills for purchases such as the $1.5 billion retired Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov; acquisition of 16 MiG-29K aircraft for the carrier; $1.1 billion for Israeli Phalcon radar mounted on three Russian Il-76 airborne early warning aircraft; about $1.7 billion for 66 BAE SYSTEMS Hawk advanced jet trainers; and the $600 million purchase of four Embraer Legacy executive jets for the prime minister and president.
A senior Defence Ministry official said Aug. 23 that additional funds will be needed for new acquisitions, including 280 155mm self-propelled guns, Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers from Russia, unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel, fifth-generation missiles and radar from overseas companies, and finalization of the $2 billion Scorpene submarine deal with France.