Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday that the Indian armed forces are all prepared for intense war as far as ammunition is concerned. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman further said that the number of fighter jets required by the Air Force changes from time to time and the situation was different in 2001 when India decided to purchase 126 aircraft.
According to the reports, Raksha Mantri Nirmala Sitharaman was speaking at an event ‘India’s National Security and Importance of Rafale Deal’ organized by a think-tank named Foundation for Public Awareness and Policy’ in Ahmedabad said that the defence wings of India are in all readiness as far as ammunition is concerned. Defence Minister said that the armed forces have enough quantity for at least 10 days of the intense war.
“The defence wings of India are in readiness for sure. We have made an item-wise purchase of all ammunition. Vice Chief of the defence wings was given the power to purchase ammunition to fulfil all shortages after our government was established at the Centre,” said Defence Minister Sitharaman
Sitharaman also cleared the air on the induction of various other arms and ammunition of the latest technology that is being bought from other countries. She said that 36 Rafale jets will start to arrive in September this year, two Project 1135.6 Talwar class frigates for India will come from Russia and two more such frigates will be assembled in the Goa shipyard. S-400 air defence system will also be inducted soon, increasing operational readiness of the Indian Air Force, said Sitharaman.
However, Sitharaman did not speak on the issue over a befitting response to the terrorist state of Pakistan over the recent Pulwama attack but said that PM Narendra Modi has already said that the Army chief will decide a time for the same.
Attacking the previous UPA government led by Congress, Sitharaman also revealed how the UPA government never utilised the defence budget for the acquisition of weapons and technology that was needed for Indian armed forces.
“IAF did not have a technologically advanced aircraft. Latest guns were inducted in the Army when our government came in 2014. After Bofors, no gun was inducted in a 30-year-span. They complained about the budget but there was sufficient money with the ministry. Defence procurement had come to a grinding halt during the UPA government,” the defence minister said.
Nirmala Sitharaman also clarified on why the Narendra Modi government decided to only buy only 36 aircraft instead of 126 as planned originally. She said the requirement of the Air Force was higher in 2001 and was seeking to buy more while the situation has changed after 20 years.
“Now you have UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles or drones), so in a situation of war are we required to send a trained pilot in a fighter plane inside the enemy borders? So requirements change from time to time. In the UPA deal, they were just procuring 18 Rafale in fly-away condition, but we are procuring 36 in fly-away condition, delivery of which will start from September. For the rest that have to be manufactured we have issued a request for information (RFI),” she said.
She further added that HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) has been given the contract for 83 light combat fighter aircraft and Sukhois are also being manufactured in India.
Targetting the Congress party, she said, under UPA defence procurement declined as “national security was not a priority but somebody else’s financial security was a priority”. She alleged that during the UPA era “middleman (Dalal) culture” prevailed impacting defence deals.
The defence minister said the armed forces are not facing any shortage of ammunition. “Earlier such issues were there. But today we do not have such problems. We have given the power to the army to purchase ammunition,” Sitharaman said.