Money No Object As India Raises Defense Spending Defense Technology International Jan 01 , 2010 , p. 48 Neelam Mathews New Delhi
India ramps up procurement Printed headline: Buying Power
India’s defense budget for 2010-11 is expected to rise 20% from the previous fiscal year. Factors influencing this include the Mumbai attacks of November 2008, tension with Pakistan, security for India’s 7,600 km. (4,722 mi.) of coastline and the need to protect ocean shipping, an economic lifeline.
“There is no limit to security expenditure,” a defense ministry official tells DTI. “Whatever is asked for, is given.”
The memory of the Mumbai attack has put the government under pressure to procure more and better equipment. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated that security modernization is crucial to economic development. With this in mind it is not surprising that in 2009, Israel, a country with long experience in security, surpassed Russia as India’s leading arms supplier. India purchased air and naval surveillance systems from Israel after the Mumbai attacks, along with aerostat radar valued at $600 million for the border with Pakistan, where the Mumbai terrorists originated. Since 2007, India has signed $1 billion of defense contracts with Israel.
Defense Minister A.K. Antony wants India’s defense budget pegged at 3% of GDP, though for 2010 it will be less. “Considering our economic boom, our allocation for defense is [lagging],” Antony has said. “Every year it is coming down. The [regional] average is 3%.”
Major deals, though, are in the offing. A decision is near on the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, for the purchase of 126 fighters. The navy will pay $2.1 billion for eight P-8I maritime aircraft from Boeing. The navy is also retrofitting Ilyushin Il-38 maritime patrol aircraft with avionics, upgrading 11 Dornier Do228 maritime patrol planes, replacing 16 Westland Sea King helicopters and procuring 29 MiG-29K carrier fighters.
The government has allocated $1 billion for paramilitaries. Recipients include the Central Police Organization, which assists state governments in fighting insurgency and terrorism, and the Central Industrial Security Force, which is in the midst of an expansion. The security force’s responsibilities include guarding businesses and industrial sites and protecting India’s foreign missions.
Antony said that India is building its defense capabilities as China has, another country going through an economic boom. On the gap between military expenditures and those of neighbors, he stressed there was no need for comparisons. “Whatever is needed to strengthen our armed forces, we are doing.”