First Tejas to fly before Diwali: Parrikar

imagesNEW DELHI: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that the strength of combatized armed forces will not be cut down rather it will be strengthened. In an exclusive interview to AIR , Mr Parrikar said that there is a scope of rationalization of strength of non-combat employees. He said, a committee has been set up in this regard which will submit its report in three months.

The Defence Minister said, his ministry removed obstacles in the way of procurement of defence equipment through a transparent mechanism. He said, the impact of new Defence Procurement Policy will be visible only after a year as defence procurement is a very complex and lengthy process.

Mr. Parrikar said, the new policy is aimed at promoting indigenization of defence equipment through Make in India. In reply to a question, he said the government wants to reduce import dependence in defence sector to below 40 percent from the present 60-65 percent in the next five to eight years through Make in India and make the country self-reliant in defence production.

He said, the NDA government has taken several measures to further strengthen the security of the country during last two years of its rule. He said the government fulfilled the long pending demand of defence forces for One Rank One Pension, OROP scheme.

He said, this step will bolster the confidence and morale of security forces and they will be able to thwart the evil designs of enemy. Mr. Parrikar said, OROP will not have any adverse impact on the Defence budget.

He said, Government has given freedom to armed forces to deal with insurgents in the insurgency-prone areas and with the enemy at the borders. On modernization of defence forces, the Defence Minister said, two indigenously manufactured Tejas, Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA) have already been inducted in the Air Force and its first squadron will be ready to fly by September-October this year.

He said, 6 new submarines are under construction at Mazagaon Docks. He admitted that corruption in defence procurement during the previous regime had affected defence preparedness and after Bofors scam, procurement of guns had come to a standstill.

Mr. Parrikar said, the trial of Dhanush gun manufactured by ordnance factory in the country is underway and production of self-propelled guns in the private sector with 50 percent indigenous content has been approved and contracts will be given in next 2-3 months.
He said, production of ordnance factories have gone up by 15-20 percent in the recent past. Mr. Parrikar said, indiscriminate blacklisting of defence manufacturers makes procurement costlier. On Rafael aircraft deal, he said, it would be finalized very soon. He said, government is engaged in last minute bargaining to reduce its price.

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