India To Buy Night Vision Devices
New Delhi: India has approved a plan to buy 50 billion rupees ($792 million) worth of defense equipment including night vision devices and rockets for its armed forces.
At a Nov. 11 meeting of the Defense Acquisition Council, the highest decision-making body in the country’s defense affairs, Defense Minister A.K. Antony approved the procurement of night vision devices worth 38 billion rupees ($ 600 million) for carbines of infantry soldiers and 10,000 rockets worth 6.8 billion rupees ($108 million), a defense official says.
In April, the Indian government gave its consent to acquire around 5,000 third-generation thermal-imaging and night-vision devices for the country’s Russian-origin T-72 and T-90 battle tanks and its BMP Infantry Combat Vehicles (ICVs).
The defense ministry will approach the state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), which is currently producing thermal imagers, and certain Indian private companies, as part of the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) to “Buy Indian”, the defense official says.
In 2007, BEL signed a memoranda of understanding with Elbit Systems Electro Optics Ltd. for the local production and support of thermal imaging systems.
Under the current proposal for procuring night vision devices, the companies will be asked to produce the image intensification tube within the country, the defense official adds.
So far, Indian vendors including BEL have relied on foreign suppliers, mainly Israeli firms.
Programs already are under way to equip T-72 tanks with 700 thermal imaging standalone systems (Tisas) and 418 thermal fire control systems at a cost of around $230 million. About 300 Israeli Tisas have been installed already as part of the T-72 upgrade program.
India’s army has been concerned about the night-fighting capabilities of its mechanized fleet that includes T-72 and T-90 tanks and ICVs. It is believed that only half of the armed forces’ tank fleet currently has this capability.
The government believes the night vision devices will empower tanks and ICVs to have the capability to fight in both day and night conditions.
India’s defense ministry has also approved procurement of 10,000 rockets under Transfer of Technology from Russia for the GRAD multi-barrel rocket launchers.
The rockets to be procured under the contract will be “of extended range,” the government official says.
India plans to spend about $100 billion to modernize its aging military hardware over the next decade to compete with the defense potential of neighbors Pakistan and China.