Govt engaged in last minute bargaining to reduce price of Rafael: Parrikar

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said the government is engaged in last minute bargaining to reduce the price of Rafael fighter aircraft, adding that it would be finalised very soon.

The minister 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.

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

“The new policy is aimed at promoting indigenisation of defence equipment through Make in India,” Parrikar said told All India Radio in an interview.

He said the strength of combatised armed forces would not be cut down rather it would be strengthened.

“There is a scope of rationalisation of strength of non-combat employees and a committee has been set up in this regard which will submit its report in three months,” said Parrikar.

“The NDA government has taken several measures to further strengthen the security of the country during last two years of its rule and has fulfilled the long-pending demand of defence forces for the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme. This step will bolster the confidence and morale of security forces and they will be able to thwart the evil designs of enemy,” said Parrikar, adding the OROP will not have any adverse impact on the Defence budget.

He said the government has given freedom to armed forces to deal with insurgents in the insurgency-prone areas and with the enemy at the borders.

On modernisation 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 and six 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 the Bofors scam, the procurement of guns had come to a standstill.

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.

“Production in ordnance factories has gone up by 15-20 percent in the recent past. Indiscriminate blacklisting of defence manufacturers has made procurement costlier,” he added. (ANI)