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Defence Ministry approves procurement of indigenous Astra missiles

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NEW DELHI: Amid continuing tensions on the Ladakh border, the defence ministry has approved procurement of weapons and ammunition worth Rs 38,900 crore, including critical home developed systems that will reduce dependence on imports in the coming years and will come as a boost to the defence industry.

The indigenous design and development proposals approved — worth over Rs 20,400 crore — includes the cutting-edge Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAM) that has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile, which has been successfully tested, will be ordered by both the Air Force and Navy and would replace legacy Russian missiles in the long term.

Sources said that in the first tranche, 248 of the missiles will be ordered to be equipped on the Su 30 MKI and MiG-29K fleets. The Air Force has already made it clear that the Astra will be its mainstay longrange air-to-air missile in future and would be standardised on as many platforms as possible.

The ministry has also given the go ahead for addition of a new Long Range Land Attack Missile Systems, capable of hitting targets at over 1,000 km, for the Navy and Air Force. This will give greater standoff range to the forces and could be equipped onto the future fleet of P-75I submarines that are being procured.

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“The equipment are going to be manufactured in India involving Indian defence industry with participation of several MSMEs as prime tier vendors. The indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80% of the project cost,” the defence ministry said, adding that acquisitions worth Rs 31,130 crore would be carried out from the Indian industry.

This includes a Rs 10,730-crore order to be placed on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture 12 more Su-30 MKI fighter jets at Nasik. This adds to the 272 fighter jets of the type that have been ordered in several tranches by the Air Force till now. The ministry has also given approval for the procurement of 21 news MiG-29 UPGs from Russia, as well as an upgradation of 59 existing fighter jets of the type for Rs 7,418 crore. These fighter jets are needed to increase the squadron strength of the Air Force, and are expected to be delivered in a short time frame as they have already been partially built by Russia.


Source :economictimes.indiatimes.com

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