The cash-strapped Indian military is opting to lease critical platforms rather than purchasing them in order to plug “operational gaps,” The Times of India reported.
The Indian Army, which has been squared up against the Chinese army at the northern border for the past year, leased four Heron Mark-II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) from Israel in mid-January, according to Mint.
Heron’s ability to remain airborne for up to 50 hours at a stretch makes it the platform of choice to survey the 3,488-km (2,167m) India-China border.
Sea Guardian Lease
The decision, made under the military’s emergency procurement program, came on the heels of the navy leasing American Sea Guardian drones in November to keep an eye on Chinese navy movement in the Indian Ocean, The Print reported.
The news outlet further revealed that the unarmed version of the General Atomics’ Predator drone could also be deployed in the northern Ladakh region where a stand-off between the two country’s armies took place.
Call for Proposal to Lease Helicopters
The Times of India further stated that the navy recently made a request for information from international defense manufacturers to lease 24 armed, twin-engine light utility helicopters for a period of five years.
The decision was made because of “continuing delay” in launching a program to make, with foreign collaboration, 111 naval utility helicopters to replace the 60’s-origin single-engine Chetak rotorcraft.
“The aim is to mitigate short-term capability gaps. Leasing was introduced as a separate provision in the Defence Acquisition Procedure last October. It will cut time delays and initial capital costs,” an unnamed Indian military officer stated.
Plans to Lease Aerial Refueler
The Indian Air force will “wet lease” an A-330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft from France to train their personnel in refueling aircraft mid-air.
In a wet lease, the aircraft provider lends a crew to the lessee along with the aircraft and provides maintenance for the aircraft.
The decision to lease the French transport aircraft was made after the original plan to buy six new flight refueling aircraft fell through, The Times of India added.
Plans in the Pipeline
The Indian military has also opted to lease a range of platforms, including trainer aircraft, minesweepers, and tankers.
The leasing of these platforms is restricted to non-offensive systems because of feasibility issues. Weapons exporting nations prefer to lease offensive platforms such as fighter aircraft and missiles only to countries within a military alliance, such as NATO.