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India Cancels Major Defense Deals in Indigenization Push

In a push towards indigenization of its defense industry, the Indian government has canceled major defense deals abroad, including helicopters for its Coast Guard, all-terrain vehicles, and short-range surface-to-air missiles.

The move comes after a decision was made at a meeting of the defense ministry in New Delhi on Friday, India Today reported, citing government sources. The ministry had prepared a list of overseas procurement plans that indigenous items could replace.

Other procurement deals that have been closed or deferred include Very Short-Range Air Defense Systems, vertically launched surface-to-air missiles, towed artillery guns, shipborne unmanned aerial systems, MiG-29 combat aircraft, and additional P-8I surveillance aircraft, Republic World reported.

The decision is set to boost the domestic defense sector and push for “Make in India,” the ruling government’s flagship plan to indigenize manufacturing across industries.

Canceled Deals 

India canceled the procurement of 14 twin-engine helicopters to be developed by Airbus. The government has decided to replace the deal with indigenous naval utility helicopters from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Similarly, short-range missiles from abroad have also been shelved in favor of Indian-made missiles.

India will also scrap a $1 billion deal for Kamov-226 helicopters with Russia, yet to be signed. Delhi also canceled Russian Kamov-31 shipborne choppers and Klub class anti-ship missiles.

Indigenization Push

In November 2021, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh gave clearance to India-made acquisition proposals for modernization and requirements in the defense sector worth Rs 7,965 crore ($1 billion).

“Key approvals of procurement from domestic sources include twelve Light Utility Helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL); Lynx U2 Fire Control System from Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) which will enhance the detection tracking and engagement capabilities of Naval warships and Mid Life Upgradation of the Dornier Aircraft from HAL to increase the Naval capacity of maritime reconnaissance and coastal surveillance,” a defense ministry statement said.

India recently conducted a string of tests to develop variants of its indigenous missiles. In December, the country successfully tested the nuclear-capable Agni-Prime ballistic missile, which has a range of 1,000-2,000 kilometers (621-1,242 miles).

Last week, the country tested the naval variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, an indigenous version of the man-portable anti-tank guided missile with a range of 350-400 kilometers (217-248 miles). 

It also flight-tested the standard Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile which has a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles).

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