On Critical Procurements: As far as modernisation is concerned, we have divided the procurements in to three categories- critical, important and essential; and prioritised the acquisitions accordingly. There are seven critical projects, 17 important projects and the rest in the essential category. We are addressing the critical and the important ones immediately. To name a few in critical category — artillery guns, air defence guns, helicopters, and the crucial equipment for the infantry soldiers.
On Modernisation: To expedite the induction of modern military equipment and hardware and systems, the government is working on the revision of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) which is in final stages. This will surely ease the procurement process while still ensuring probity, transparency and greater accountability. Furthermore, no nation can aspire the greater power status without indigenous R&D and defence production base. Aligned with ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Indian Army is pursuing an ambitious indigenisation programme that meets the modernisation needs. Advances in these areas have been substantial. I would like to say that maximum acceptance of necessity (AON) for army procurement schemes in the last five years have been sought and accorded in the categories of Make (Indian) or Buy-and-Make (Indian). We have signed 73 per cent of the procurement contracts in the last few years with Indian companies. In fact, in the past two years, this has gone up from 73 per cent to 87 per cent. In terms of value, 55 per cent of our modernisation budget has been spent on the Indian industry. Major recent procurement schemes in ‘Make in India’ category include Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV), Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV), upgradation of the infantry combat vehicle - BMP, Battlefield management system (BMS), and Tactical Communication System (TCS). We formalised engagements with the Indian industry so as to share with them our long term needs of military technology. Workshops of procurement schemes have been recently conducted in Delhi and similar workshops are planned in major industrial hubs within the country - at Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmadabad and some other places.
On Army Design Bureau: In order to fast track our technological processes, a new army design bureau has been established to concentrate on design expertise and to provide technical inputs to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). Army design bureau will not only fast track procurement, it will also help in the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the government. It will also act as depository of that of the Indian army related to the design and technology. All these initiatives combined with government enhancing the limit of FDI in defence to 49 per cent provide great opportunity for the industry to prove their mettle.
On Artillery: There are areas where there is very little progress or no progress, for example the acquisition of artillery guns. For the past 28 years, we have not acquired a single piece or artillery gun in our inventory. As a result there are certain deficiencies. However, there has been a substantial progress in the last year, year and half, in this account. Very large number of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) clearances has been given. In the artillery procurement itself, 814 guns were cleared whether it is Vajra or Dhanush. They are at various stages of procurement like trials and at the stage of Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC). Ammunition procurements are also going ahead.
On Bullet Proof Jackets: About 1.86 lakh bullet proof jackets (BPJs) are to be procured for which the process is on. The first phase of trials has succeeded and the second stage of trials is now on. This is as per the new General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR). And as per the old GSQR, we are procuring 50,000 BPJs straight away. That is presently at CNC stage and this order will come through shortly, may be in few months. Helmets already succeeded the trials and further process is on.
On Cyber Threats: The new challenge that has emerged now is cyber threat we are taking certain measures with regard to this. We placed firewalls, and also ensured air gap between the computers. Furthermore, we are focused on the education of our people on the ground on matters of cyber security. We are sensitising the environment. We have also got the cyber group here at Army Headquarters. Cyber audits are done periodically to ensure that security of this aspect is being taken care of.