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Government approves big-ticket military acquisition worth ₹84,560 crore ($10.57 bn)

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted approval for Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for various capital acquisition proposals amounting to ₹84,560 crore ($10.57 billion). The DAC also notified amendments in Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, reducing the overall procurement cycle for Start-Ups & MSMEs.

February 17, 2024 By Manish Kumar Jha Photo(s): By Indian Air Force, Airbus

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the chairmanship of the Defence Minister, accorded approval for Acceptance of Necessity (AoNs) for various capital acquisition proposals worth 84,560 crore. The DAC’s approval on February 16 focuses on the procurement of various equipment from Indian vendors, leading to a simplified procedural process and payment systems for startups and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the defence sector.

The DAC approved AoNs for critical systems like next-generation anti-tank mines, Air Defence Tactical Control Radar, Heavy Weight Torpedoes, Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance, Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft, and Flight Refueler Aircraft (FRA), enhancing the operational capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces.

The SDR Manpack radio from BEL

The AoNs include key systems and sub-systems which include next-generation anti-tank mines, Air Defence Tactical Control Radar, Heavy Weight Torpedoes, Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft. Addressing the criticality of the impending Flight Refueler Aircraft (FRA), the DAC also accorded AoN for the new FRAs, boosting the IAF’s capabilities for greater operational reach for the fighter jets.

Additionally, the DAC also cleared the proposal for procurement of the Software Defined Radiosfor the Indian Armed Forces under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category (DAP 2020).

This will fulfil the ICG requirement for high-speed communication with secure networking capability for seamless information exchange between the ICG and the Indian Navy units.

Policy Amendments for DAP 2020

The MoD has brought out a significant change which aims to promote the procurement of Advanced technologies from startups and MSMEs. The amendments imply that such initiative and development under the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) and Technology Development Fund schemes will be prioritised and accorded much-needed change in the procurement cycle.

Under the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, the government has simplified the process of benchmarking and cost computation, payment schedule, and procurement quantity for startups. According to a senior official from the MoD, “The amendments will boost and support a business environment for the start-ups and MSMEs under iDEX and TDF schemes.”

Policy amendments under DAP 2020 prioritise procurement from startups and MSMEs through initiatives like iDEX and Technology Development Fund (TDF), simplifying processes, reducing procurement cycles, and enabling startups to demonstrate technological prowess early on.

Earlier, the DAC also approved the new simplified procedure for procurement from iDEX startups and MSMEs by reducing the procurement cycle from the AON to contract signing to around 22 weeks as per the new procedure. Further, the DAC also approved the simplified procedure for Make-II category projects on similar lines to the iDEX procedure.

Besides considerably bringing down the time taken from prototype development to Contract signing in Make-II projects, the new amendment will enable startups to showcase their technological demonstration in the early stage.

Flight Refueller Aircraft for the IAF

The DAC accorded AoN for procurement of Flight Refueller Aircraft for enhancing the operational capabilities and reach of the Indian Air Force. The IAF has been looking to replace its ageing fleet of six IL-78 Midas aircraft. The issue remained pertinent due to the IL-78s’ maintenance issues which require urgent replacement of refuelling pods after serving nearly two decades since its induction in 2003.

For this strategic acquisition, the IAF has been looking at various proposals from leading global OEMs which include Airbus, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin with each company offering different types of aircraft. Earlier, Boeing offered to convert its 767-passenger aircraft into Medium Multirole Transport Aircraft.

Air Defence and Tactical Radars for the Armed Forces

Addressing the current challenges in building the capabilities to detect slow, small, and low-flying aerial targets, the DAC has approved AoN for procurement of Air Defence Tactical Control Radar. The decision comes at a crucial time when the need for such Air Defence Systems for the surveillance, detection & tracking of different aerial targets remains a key area for the IAF.

Air Defence Tactical Control Radar (ADTCR) by DRDO

The DAC has also accorded AoN under the Buy {Indian-Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (IDDM)} category for procuring a new generation of Anti-tank mines with seismic sensors and providing remote deactivation with additional safety features. The DAC also approved the AoN for the Tactical Battle Area for engaging targets that are Beyond Visual Line of Sight by the Mechanised Forces.

The DAC also approved AoNs for procurement of Air Defence Tactical Control Radar, Anti-tank mines with seismic sensors, Tactical Battle Area engagement systems, Canister Launched Anti-Armour Loiter Munition System, Active Towed Array Sonar, Heavy Weight Torpedoes, and sustainment support for MH60R aircraft, further bolstering the defence capabilities of India.

Additionally, the government also approved the procurement of Canister Launched Anti-Armour Loiter Munition System underthe Buy (Indian-IDDM) category.

Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft for Navy

Addressing another significant area in the surveillance and interdiction capabilities of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), the AoNs were accorded to procure Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft.

While the government did not clarify the models of the proposed aircraft, the current discussion hints at a maritime surveillance version of the C295 aircraft made by Airbus. The procurements for Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft will take place under the Buy and Make category.


India has already inked a deal with French OEM Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C295 transport worth 21,935 ($2.74 billion) crore to replace its ageing Avro-748 fleets. The deal entails the first 16 aircraft in ‘fly-away’ condition and the rest of the 40 aircraft to be manufactured and assembled jointly by Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India.

After the initial approval, the proposed acquisition will have to pass through the complex bidding processes or manufacturer negotiations leading to the final approval by the cabinet committee.

The DAC has also accorded the AoN under Buy (Indian) category for procurement of Active Towed Array Sonar having capabilities to operate at low frequencies and various depths for long-range detections of adversary submarines. The AoN has also been accorded for procurement of Heavy Weight Torpedoes for enhancing the attacking capabilities of Kalvari Class submarines.

Additionally, the AoN for sustainment support through Follow On Support (FOS) and Repair Replenishment support through Follow On Supply Support (FOSS) for 24 MH-60R aircraft under Foreign Military Sale route with the US Government has also been accorded.

Note: Exchange rate taken as $1= 80.


The author is a defence editor and security expert. He writes on National Security, Military Technology, Strategic Affairs & Policies.