NEW DELHI — India will increase spending on naval forces in the next 10 years but is unlikely to raise total defense spending above the current level of a little under 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), despite encouragement to do so from some experts, said an official of India’s Planning Commission.
A Defence Ministry official said buys of weapons and equipment, worth $100 billion, will be made in the next seven to 10 years from both domestic and overseas sources. The purchases will focus on “maritime security, increase in firepower assets for mountain warfare, precision guided munitions — ground-based and air-to-ground, military intervention capabilities,” said Gurmeet Kanwal, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst.
Defense spending on sea-based assets will increase as the Navy will need to add warships to maintain a fleet strength of about 140; maintain three aircraft carriers; and purchase additional submarines, aircraft and helicopters.
The Navy also plans to double its strength of aircraft to 500 in the next 10 to 12 years, a Navy official said. Unspecified numbers of UAVs, air defense missiles, heavyweight torpedoes for subs and a dedicated satellite will be procured.
Defence Ministry sources said another 12 P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft may be ordered from Boeing.
The Navy bought eight P8I LRMR aircraft in January 2009, and an order of four more was awarded to Boeing in 2010 for about $1.1 billion.
“India needs to improve its military infrastructure and force levels, particularly in the sea, keeping in mind China’s forays into the Indian Ocean,” said Nitin Mehta, a New Delhi-based defense analyst.
China inducted one aircraft carrier last month and plans to have three carriers by 2016.
Indian defense planners will also have to pay more attention to the Chinese influence in the Arabian Gulf, once U.S. troops leave Iraq, creating a gap of influence in the region, Mehta added.
“The Indian Navy will need to do some fast thinking to match the Chinese influence, not only in the Indian Ocean but also in the Persian Gulf,” Mehta said