New Delhi, Sept. 14: India has decided to buy 12 second-hand Mirage 2000-V fighter aircraft from Qatar among a rash of military purchases that is currently on for all three armed services, highly-placed defence ministry sources have said.
The purchases began two years ago, despite the cloud of the Tehelka exposé that pointed to bribery in defence deals, and are now picking up. In 2001-2002, the purchases for the army alone totalled Rs 4,950 crore. Up-to-date figures were not readily available with the ministry but it was understood that expenses more than Rs 9,000 crore have already been incurred in purchases for the army alone.
Many of these purchases are under negotiation while some have been contracted and/or partly delivered. In the space of another three years, the sources claimed, the Indian military arsenal would have been vastly diversified and modernised.
The sources said the terms for Mirage 2000-V, a more modern version of the Mirage 2000 fighters with the Indian Air Force, were being negotiated. The defence ministry has decided to go in for the aircraft because it had been found that even though they were “second hand” they were “as good as new”.
The sources refused to speculate on the cost of the deal. The Mirage 2000-V aircraft would be capable of delivering nuclear payloads. Qatar had bought them from France but the Qatar air force now has little need of them.
Last fortnight’s Cabinet Committee on Security clearance of purchases worth Rs 3,046 crore covers only a part of the procurements that were being made.
Giving a run-down of the military purchases, the sources said purchases for the army have included: UBK Relecks missiles for T-90 tanks; Krasnopol terminally guided ammunition; automatic grenade launchers; multiple grenade launchers and ammunition; 84 mm rocket launchers; flame throwers; special sniper rifles; assault rifles for para special forces; thermal imaging fire control systems; thermal imaging sights for T-90 tanks; KMP6 mine ploughs for de-mining, de-mining vehicles; and armoured recovery vehicles.
A bulk of the purchases is surveillance equipment such as Flycatcher Radar, Tactical Control Radar, Thermal Imaging Integrated Observation equipment and long range reconnaissance observation systems.
For Kashmir and troubled areas of the Northeast, the military was being given fibre optic surveillance devices, electronic stethoscopes to detect improvised explosive devices, bomb separate blankets and disposal suits, X-ray generator and telescopic manipulator (to disable explosive devices).
Major purchases for the navy have included nine Barak missile systems and 200 Barak missiles, eight Searcher Mark II Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, four Heron UAVs and seven suites of electronic warfare equipment (all from Israel).