C-295 Aircraft (Representation)
PC : Airbus

In a major push to self-reliance in defence, India has signed contracts and cleared projects worth almost ₹54,000 crore in less than a month to boost military capability with locally produced weapons and systems, including transport planes, tanks, helicopters, airborne early warning systems, and counter-drone weapons.

“The development reflects the government’s commitment to achieving atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in defence manufacturing,” an official said on the condition of anonymity. “The domestic defence ecosystem is set to become more robust in the coming years as we cut down our dependence on imported military hardware.”

On September 24, the defence ministry signed a ₹22,000-crore contract with Airbus Defence and Space for 56 C-295 medium transport aircraft to modernise the Indian Air Force’s transport fleet. Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Ltd will jointly execute the contract. Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in ready condition from Spain and Tata will assemble the rest in India.

The C-295 deal was signed a day after the ministry placed an order worth ₹7,523 crore with Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi, Tamil Nadu, for 118 Arjun Mk-1A tanks.

The Cabinet Committee on Security last month also cleared a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) proposal to develop a new airborne early warning and control aircraft for the air force using Airbus jets bought from Air India. The deal is expected to be worth around ₹11,000 crore.

“Indigenous defence projects will involve hundreds of Indian vendors and generate thousands of jobs,” said a second official, also declining to be named.

The defence acquisition council – India’s apex procurement body – last week accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for defence purchases worth ₹13,165 crore, including 25 advanced light helicopters Mark III.

India has set aside ₹70,221 crore this financial year for domestic defence procurement, accounting for 63% of the military’s capital expenditure budget. Last year, the ministry spent over ₹51,000 crore, or 58% of its capex budget, on domestic purchases.

India has decided to ban the import of 209 weapons and systems to boost self reliance. The ban, to be implemented progressively till 2025, covers artillery guns, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft, long-range land attack cruise missiles, basic trainer aircraft and specified types of helicopters.