. Military Space News .

Old weapons, new threats fuel India's military build-up
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (AFP) Feb 2, 2012

India's planned purchase of 126 fighters from France's Dassault marks the latest stage in a huge military procurement cycle that has turned the world's largest democracy into its biggest arms importer.

The final Dassault contract is expected to be worth $12 billion and India is preparing further big ticket purchases over the coming years, including of helicopters and artillery.

In a report to be published next week, Jane's Defence Weekly forecasts that India's aggregate defence procurement spending between 2011 and 2015 will top $100 billion.

What is less clear -- and the subject of some heated debate -- is why New Delhi is so hungry for costly modern weaponry and where the country's strategic priorities lie.

Some argue that India is simply playing catch-up and using its growing economic wealth to effect a pragmatic, and long overdue, overhaul of a military arsenal still loaded with near-obsolete, Soviet-era hardware.

But others sense a more combative impulse, driven by the military modernisation efforts of its rivals and neighbours Pakistan and China, as well as the need to secure energy resources and supply lines outside its borders.

In testimony Tuesday to a Senate Select Committee, the director of US national intelligence, James Clapper, said India was increasingly concerned about China's posture on their disputed border and the wider South Asia region.

"The Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean," Clapper said.

In order to secure the modern weaponry it needs to buttress its defence imperatives, India has little choice but to spend big in the global arms market.

Its long-stated ambition of sourcing 70 percent of defence equipment from the home market has been hampered by weak domestic production -- the result of the stifling impact of excessive bureaucracy.

Consequently, statistics from the Ministry of Defence show that India still imports 70 percent of its defence hardware.

"Where India has had some success is in joint ventures, and building foreign equipment under license," said James Hardy, Asia Pacific analyst at Jane's -- a respected industry publication.

"The licensed production route seems to be working and at this point in India's development is a good way of overcoming the bureaucratic challenges of indigenous production."

The proposed contract with Dassault envisages the purchase of 18 Rafale aircraft, with the remaining 108 to be built in India.

India's need for a multi-combat fighter is, in part, based on its geographical size which spans several operational theatres with wildly varying topographies.

"The aircraft they have just get worn out," said Hardy. "They want aircraft that can fly, land and take off anywhere from the Himalayas to the deserts of Rajasthan."

While the Indian Army has traditionally taken the lion's share of the national procurement budget, the focus has begun to shift in recent years toward the air force and navy.

In December, Russia handed over a nuclear-powered attack submarine to India on a 10-year lease -- a deal greeted with alarm and anger by Pakistan.

The Akula II class craft is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be operated by India since it decommissioned its last Soviet-built vessel in 1991.

India is currently completing the development of its own Arihant-class nuclear-powered submarine and the Russian delivery is expected to help crews train for the domestic vessel's introduction into service next year.

India is particularly keen to strengthen its maritime capabilities, given China's pursuit of a powerful "blue water" navy which Delhi sees as a threat to key shipping routes in the Indian Ocean and Indian energy assets in the South China Sea.

But many Indian observers reject suggestions that India is even thinking of getting into an arms race with China.

"The Chinese have a huge, huge lead. They are in a different league," said strategic analyst Uday Bhaskar.

"The gap in conventional terms and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) is so wide in China's favour, that it's just not valid to say India is trying to catch up or seek any kind of equivalence.

"India is simply seeking what it sees as a level of self-sufficiency, and is being constrained by its modest outlay and a decision-making process that drives everyone up the wall. That's why we top of the list of arms-importing nations," Bhaskar said.

China, meanwhile, seems content to gently mock what the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, in December described as the "persecution mania" driving India's military modernisation.

Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Putin declines to host China's future premier: report
Moscow (AFP) Feb 1, 2012
Vladimir Putin has refused to host a top Chinese official tipped to become China's next prime minister due to his busy agenda ahead of polls putting a strain on bilateral ties, a newspaper said Wednesday. Kommersant broadsheet, citing sources in the Russian-Chinese inter-governmental commission, the Russian foreign ministry and the government, said that vice Premier Li Keqiang tagged to beco ... read more

Russia to build space defense missiles

NATO to base missile shield command in Germany

NATO sees little progress in missile talks with Russia

Lithuania faults Russia over missile plan on EU borders

Thales bids for $3B Saudi missile deal

Iran mass producing anti-ship cruise missile: TV

MBDA developing new missile system

Raytheon's RAM Strikes Twice During Back-to-Back Tests

NATO agrees on long-delayed drone programme

Northrop Grumman Awarded Contract for Integration of Battlefield Airborne Communications Node on Global Hawks

Iraq says US needs its permission for drones

Obama confirms US drone strikes in Pakistan

Brazil to assemble Harris tactical radio

Northrop Grumman Wins Award for USAF Design and Engineering Support Program

Fourth WGS Satellite Sends First Signals from Space

Boeing to Build More Wideband Global SATCOM Satellites for USAF

AAI Logistics and Technical Services Awarded USAF Contract for B-1B Training System Support

Lockheed Martin Awarded Contract to Support US Army Research Lab

US 'bunker-buster' not powerful enough against Iran

Iran says it has laser-guided artillery rounds

Obama, foes in military spending cut fight

US lawmakers call for hearings on military hazing

Dassault tops EADS for Indian jet deal

Boeing and Thales choose Eurocopter

Old weapons, new threats fuel India's military build-up

Europe has 'nothing to fear' from US focus on Asia: Germany

US vows commitment to Europe despite Asia focus

Putin declines to host China's future premier: report

Nano-oils keep their cool

Rice professor's nanotube theory confirmed

UK researchers shed light on magnetic mystery of graphite

Graphene: Impressive capabilities on the horizon


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement