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Ministry of defence clears military projects worth over Rs 12,000 crore

 Russia

The defence ministry cleared new military modernisation proposals worth over Rs 12,000 crore, ranging from the acquisition of two additional regiments of the indigenous Pinaka multiple-launch rocket systems to the upgrade of 26 Ilyushin transport aircraft by Russia. In terms of cost, the largest proposal to be cleared by the Manohar Parrikar-chaired defence acquisitions council (DAC) was the Rs 4,250 crore one to upgrade the Ilyushin fleet with new engines and avionics to extend their service life by another 20 years.

The DAC also "amended" the ''acceptance of necessity" (AoN) granted for the production of 363 BMP-II infantry combat vehicles by the Ordnance Factory Board under licence from Russia at a cost of Rs 1,800 crore. The modified AoN - which signifies the approval for theprocurement process to kick off is now for the acquisition of 149 BMP-IIs at a cost of Rs 924 crore for the Army. Both these decisions come just a day before Parrikar leaves for a visit to Russia.

The DAC also cleared two more Pinaka MLRS regiments for the Army, at a cost of Rs 3,306 crore, to add to the two such regiments the force already has to plug gaps in its medium-range, high-volume firepower. With a strike range of 40-km, the Pinaka MLRS are manufactured by the Tatas and L&T based on technology developed by DRDO.

The Navy, in turn, will get four new multi-purpose vessels at a cost of Rs 2,800 crore to replace its old ocean-going tugs. The AoN for the long-pending Rs 1,500 crore project to buy two deep-submergence rescue vessels (DSRVs) was also extended by the DAC. The Navy has been pushing for DSRVs - which "mate" with stricken submarines at depths over 500 metres to rescue trapped sailors for well over a decade now but are still nowhere near getting them.

The Rs 1,800 crore case for "digitization" of 25 firing units of the Pechora surface-to-air missile system was also approved by the DAC. This will ensure that the ageing Pechora system, which has a range of 30-km, can be used by the IAF for another decade or so.