NEW DELHI: Seeking to further strengthen its capability to hit ground targets, India is planning to acquire a lethal and more capable version of the Spice-2000 bombs from Israel and 33 new fighter jets including 21 MiG-29s from Russia.
The government sources claim that the bombs, which were used effectively to destroy the Pakistani militant camp in Balakot town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province last year, are planned to be acquired by the Air Force as part of the emergency financial powers granted to the services in the middle of a row with China.
“The Indian Air Force already has the Spice-2000 bombs. It is now planning to acquire more stand-off weapons like the Spice-2000 bombs under the emergency procurement powers granted to the services,” government sources told ANI.
The Spice-2000 bombs can hit targets upto 70 kms and the new variant inducted in the force can also destroy bunkers and hardened shelters, they said. The version used in the Balakot airstrikes could penetrate into hardened shelters and buildings and cause destruction inside.
Under the emergency powers, the Narendra Modi government has granted financial power to the defence forces under which they can buy any weapon system under Rs 500 crore. This emergency power was given close on the heels of recent clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in Galwan Valley of eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers lost their lives.
The armed forces were granted similar financial power after the Uri terror attack and the Balakot airstrike against Pakistan. As part of the process, the Army is planning to place orders for the Excalibur precision-guided missiles from the US under Foreign Military sales procedure while the Navy is also looking to buy equipment under the procedure this time.
The Defence Ministry on Thursday approved a proposal to acquire 33 new fighter aircraft including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with upgradation of 59 MiG-29s at a cost of Rs 18,148 crore.
“Addressing the long felt need of the Indian Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons, the DAC also approved the proposal for procurement of 21 MiG-29 along with upgradation of existing 59 MiG-29 aircraft and procurement of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft,” the defence ministry said in a statement on Thursday after a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
While the MiG 29 procurement and upgradation from Russia is estimated to cost Rs 7418 cr, the Su-30 MKI will be procured from HAL at an estimated cost of Rs 10,730 cr. The decision comes in the wake of high tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have been in a standoff position for several weeks now.
The DAC also approved acquisitions of various platforms and equipment required by the Indian Armed Forces for an approximate cost of Rs 38,900 cr.
It also cleared the acquisition of 248 Astra Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles for the Indian Air Force and the Navy. Design and development of a new 1,000 kilometres strike range Land Attack Cruise Missile by the DRDO has also been cleared.
“Acquisition of new/additional missile systems will add to the fire power of three Services. While acquisition of Pinaka missile systems will enable raising additional regiments over and above the ones already inducted, addition of Long Range Land Attack Missile Systems having a firing range of 1000 Km to the existing arsenal will bolster the attack capabilities of the Navy and the Air Force. Similarly induction of Astra Missiles having Beyond Visual Range capability will serve as a force multiplier and immensely add to the strike capability of Navy and Air Force,” the statement said.
The IAF has raised its guard to deal with any military provocation by the Chinese forces and forward bases have been ordered to be on their highest state of alert. Apart from Sukhoi-30s and upgraded MiG-29 fighter jets, teh IAF is operating Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and CH-47F (I) Chinook multi-mission helicopters.
The IAF and the Indian Army have deployed their air defence systems in eastern Ladakh even as the People Liberation Army-Air Force has activated several of its bases in both Xinjiang and the Tibet Autonomous Region.
Air defence missile systems
Amid heightened Chinese fighter aircraft and helicopter activities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian armed forces have deployed their advanced very quick-reaction surface-to-air missile defence systems in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
“As part of the ongoing build-up in the sector, the air defence systems of both Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been deployed in the sector to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People’s Liberation Army choppers there,” government sources told ANI.
In the last couple of weeks, the Chinese forces have brought in heavy air superiority aircraft like the Sukhoi-30 and its strategic bombers to the rear locations which have been detected flying near the Indian territory maintaining the 10 km plus distance from the boundary.
Sources said that India is also very shortly getting a highly capable air defence system from a friendly country which can be deployed and the entire area can be taken care off to prevent any enemy flying there.
Sources said the Chinese choppers have been flying their very close to the Indian LAC in all the troubled sectors including the Sub Sector North (Daulat Beg Oldie sector), Galwan valley near Patrolling Point 14, Patrolling Point 15, Patrolling Point 17 and 17A (Hot Springs area) along with the Pangong Tso and Finger area where they are now moving closer to the Finger 3 area. (ANI)