Outlining determined modernisation plans, India has expressed a will to spend over $223 billion over the next ten years to procure a multitude of weapons. Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked his ministry to project the expected cost of the up gradation programme which will see the country buy as many as 500 helicopters, 12 submarines, and nearly 100 single engine fighter jets and over 120 twin-engine fighter aircraft and aircraft carrier by 2027.
According to the ministry’s projections, the capital budget has been earmarked to grow at eight per cent annually. As a result of this hike, India is likely to end up spending $12.69 billion on defence by March 2017. It was learned that US defence giant Lockheed Martin’s offer to shift its entire F-16 production line to India will give it a strategic edge over Pakistan. “Since India would house the only existing (F-16) production line, it would be able to deny Pakistan any further platforms and also inspiration Pakistan Air Force logistics,” said Pushan Das, who follows military modernisation at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
India and Pakistan have been arch rivals since partition in 1947. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars over disputed territory and have few economic ties. “The defence giant’s overtures to India will prompt Pakistan to look away from the US and more towards China and Russia for military hardware,” Najam Rafique, director at Islamabad’s Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI), said. “Pakistan is diversifying its options,” Randall Howard, Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics business development director, said. Competition for India’s jet order is fierce. Lockheed Martin’s rivals such as Boeing Co and Saab AB are all offering to shift some production to India. Lockheed Martin, which is winding down F-16 production in the US, has successfully sold the jet for decades. Additionally, the proposed facility in India would provide much-needed, highly skilled jobs as Modi heads into several important state-level elections in 2017.