Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been selected for a Rs18,000-crore contract to supply short-range missiles to Indian Army. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by defence minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday.
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|Akash missile being test fired from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Odisha || |
The DAC preferred state-run DRDO over foreign vendors, including from Sweden, Russia and Israel for supply of the Akash surface-to-air missile system, sources said.
Akash missiles can be used for protection against incoming aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles of the adversaries and the system would be deployed on both the Pakistan and China border, sources said.
The Army, however, is reported to have sought improved missiles that are on par with foreign ones in terms of a few specific systems and equipment. DRDO is reported to have assured incorporation of the systems suggested by the forces.
Akash missiles are already being inducted into the Indian Air Force as the missiles have proved their worth.
The selection process has been slow, considering that the three foreign vendors from Israel, Sweden and Russia were in the race for bagging the contract for which the process was initiated in 2011, and trials were held in 2014.
While it took nearly seven years for the selection process for a vendor for the air defence system to conclude, DRDO has also lagged behind in the indigenous development of aircraft and land warfare systems. However, the development of a range of strategic missile systems by DRDO has helped improve the capabilities of the armed forces while also saving precious foreign exchange.
The Army wanted two regiments of the missile system to be provided to the army air defence, which has been operating with obsolete equipment for a long time, with the government itself saying that around 98 per cent of it was outdated.
The cabinet committee on security has already cleared a Rs17,000-crore Medium Range Surface to Air Missile project with Israel.