Indian Army's BrahMos
Indian Army's BrahMos weapon systems are displayed during a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 23, 2015. India has approved purchases of missiles, helicopters and guns worth $8.5b, including 200 additional BrahMos missiles. Image Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: India on Thursday approved purchases of missiles, helicopters, artillery guns and electronic warfare systems worth $8.5 billion as it sought to add more teeth to its military.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the top government body for capital acquisition approvals for the Indian military, approved the orders worth 705 billion rupees ($8.52 billion) for all its services, the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

All orders would be placed with Indian companies, it said, keeping with a push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to boost domestic defence manufacturing.

Flanked by China and Pakistan, India has been seeking to modernise its mostly Soviet-era military equipment.

The focus on the navy, which accounted for approvals worth 560 billion rupees on Thursday, comes after India expressed concern last year over Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean.

The list of purchases approved included 200 additional BrahMos missiles, 50 utility helicopters and electronic warfare systems for the navy.

BrahMos is a supersonic missile with a range of around 300 km that has been jointly developed by India and Russia. All three Indian military services have been using versions of the missile for over a decade.

The DAC also approved manufacturing of a diesel marine engine, which will be a first for India.

The Navy has more than 150 warships in its fleet and wants them to be equipped with at least one helicopter each and is looking at procuring them through the Make in India route first. The Indian Navy warships are deployed all along the Indian Ocean Region and warships are provided with helicopters for reconnaissance and surveillance along with other operations required by the fleet to be carried out.

It approved the air force’s proposal for a long range stand-off weapon to be used by the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet.

The army got the nod to buy 307 units of 155mm/52 calibre towed artillery guns, along with high mobility vehicles and gun towing vehicles.

In January this year, DAC cleared three capital acquisition proposals amounting to Rs 42.76 billion for buying indigenous Helina anti-tank missiles and air defence systems to be developed for taking down enemy aircraft.

In December last year, the DAC accorded the approval for Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for 24 Capital Acquisition Proposals.

- with inputs from ANI