Indian Army personnel keep vigilance at Bumla pass at the India-China border. Raising a new Mountain Corp for the Chinese border is part of India's plans to close its military gap with China. (Biju Boro / Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — Indian defense planners will need to hike defense spending by at least 30 percent for about 10 years to narrow the military differences between India and China, said an Indian Army official.
China spends over $100 billion on defense annually, about triple that of India’s more than $33 billion.
India will spend $150 billion in the next 10 years on new weapons from overseas and domestic sources, the Indian Army official. However, boosting spending 30 percent would require an additional $50 billion.
Given the current state of the Indian economy with an annual growth of less than 5 percent and a high fiscal deficit, the government will find it very difficult to find the additional money, said Nitin Mehta, defense analyst here.
The Army will need an additional $10 billion for the newly established Mountain Core of 80,000 troops to be deployed along the Chinese border. The Mountain Core, named 17 Corps, is planned to be raised in seven years.
India’s strategy of being able to fight China and Pakistan simultaneously will be difficult to achieve because of its slow pace of weapons acquisition, adds Mehta,
India will need to spend more than $6 billion on roads and related infrastructure in the next five years along the Chinese border, said the Indian Army official.
An MoD official said long-term purchase plans include buying night vision devices worth over $7 billion for more than 3,000 tanks and 1,900 combat vehicles. The military also will add aviation assets worth more than $3 billion in the next five to seven years.
Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army major general and defense analyst, said that given the Defence Ministry’s track record in purchasing weapons and equipment through open competition, it was necessary to buy on a government-to- government basis.
To equip the Mountain Corps, the Army will need to buy about 700 light armored multipurpose vehicles, around 1,000 light strike vehicles, about 50 command post vehicles for reconnaissance and special operation, ultra light howitzers, a variety of UAVs and to weaponize existing UAVs, the Army official said.
A variety of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition systems, greater firepower, and improved mobility will be needed along the Chinese border, Singh said. ■