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Amid budget crunch, Navy to scrap Rs 20,000 crore tender

NEW DELHI: In keeping with futuristic weapon technologies, coupled with the need for fiscal prudence, the Navy has gone in for a major rationalisation and re-prioritisation of its long-term force level plans and arms procurement projects.

Defence ministry sources say the Navy is the first among the armed forces to finalise a rationalisation plan for its capital acquisition projects, which ranges from withdrawing some tenders or Request for Proposals (RFPs) to reducing numbers in other mega programmes.

“The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), to be chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh on January 17, will discuss all this,” said a source.

Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh had himself recently declared his force is “committed to modernisation using available resources optimally”. The Navy will endeavour to get the “maximum bang for the buck, with prioritisation, rationalisation and economy of expenditure,” he said.

The maritime force currently has 125 warships and 15 diesel-electric and two nuclear submarines, along with 235 aircraft, helicopters and drones. Given budget constraints, the Navy would be reasonably happy to become a 175-warship force by 2027 despite the earlier 212-warship plan.

For starters, the RFP for the construction of four large amphibious warfare warships or landing platform docks (LPDs) at a cost of over Rs 20,000 crore by the Indian private sector is going to get scrapped. “The Navy requires LPDs but RFP was based on parameters drawn over 12-13 years ago. New specifications will be drawn,” said a source.

The long-pending mega project to build 12 Mine Counter-Measure Vessels (MCMVs), or warships designed to detect, track and destroy enemy mines, at the Goa Shipyard for Rs 32,000 crore will also get slashed. “The project will be limited to eight MCMVs now. A hunt for unmanned minesweepers will also be launched in keeping with technological advancements around the world,” said the source.

Another step will be to cut down the Rs 3,621 crore acquisition of 10 Kamov-31 AEW (airborne early warning) helicopters from Russia to six choppers, while the force will also drop the case for a survey training vessel.

Source: Economic Times