Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hike in Indian defence budget not enough Need for long-term modernisation plan

ON the eve of the 78th anniversary of the Indian Air Force last week, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik made several strategic pronouncements, including that the Air Force is to acquire 250 to 300 fifth generation fighter aircraft in a joint development and production arrangement with Russia at a cost of $30 billion. Taken together with other military acquisitions over the next 10 to 15 years, India will be spending nearly $100 billion, the largest spurt in defence modernisation ever. But this alone will not alter the strategic environment to India’s advantage. It will also require new thinking and political will. The principal beneficiaries of the drive are to be the Air Force and the Navy which together have traditionally received less than half of the Army’s share in funding. This belated correction has stemmed not from any rational analysis but classic numerology: maintaining a 1.2 million-strong Army, 39 and a half squadron Air Force and a 100-ship Navy.


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