By Staff Correspondent
On March 30, 2023, the Ministry of Defence provided a further boost to India’s ‘Aatmanirbharta’ (self-reliance) in defence by signing contracts for the procurement of advanced weapons systems for the Indian Army. The contracts, worth over INR 9,100 crore, include the acquisition of the improved Akash Weapon System and 12 Weapon Locating Radars (WLR) Swathi (Plains).
The contract for the procurement of the improved Akash Weapon System (AWS) was signed with Bharat Dynamics Limited for the 3rd and 4th regiments of Army Air Defence, comprising live missiles and launchers with upgrades, ground support equipment, vehicles, and infrastructure. The system, which is indigenously designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) air defence system. It features seeker technology, reduced footprint, 360-degree engagement capability, and improved environmental parameters.
The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will enhance India’s self-reliance in short-range missile capability, thereby reducing dependence on foreign technology. The project has an overall indigenous content of 82%, which is expected to increase to 93% by 2026-27. This will give a significant boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole.
The procurement of two additional regiments of AWS with upgrades for the Northern borders will also help the Indian Army meet aerial threats. The project is expected to contribute to the overall economy by avoiding the outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India, and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Approximately 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, thereby creating a large scale of direct and indirect employment.
The contract for WLR Swathi (Plains) was signed with Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) for over INR 990 crore. The WLR is an indigenously designed system capable of locating guns, mortars, and rockets firing on own troops, thereby facilitating their destruction through counter bombardment by own firepower resources. This will enable troops to carry out their operational tasks without any interference from the enemy and provide them with safety against enemy fire. The induction of the WLR is planned to be completed in 24 months.
This project presents a significant opportunity for the defence industry to showcase its capability and take a step towards achieving the goal of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. The procurement of these advanced weapons systems for the Indian Army will not only enhance India’s defence capabilities but also contribute to the overall economic growth of the country.