NEW DELHI — India’s weapons buyer on Thursday approved a 843.28 billion rupees ($10.18 billion) budget for the acquisition of major weapons and platforms, most of which the government will spend locally in a bid to bolster the domestic defense manufacturing sector.

The Defence Ministry said in a statement that its Defence Acquisition Council backed the so-called acceptance of necessity proposal, which will see about 97.4% of the funds used to procure indigenous materiel. That type of proposal is the first stage for buying arms, per government regulations.

“This unprecedented initiative will not only modernise the armed forces but also provide a substantial boost to the defence industry to achieve the goal of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or self-reliant India,” the ministry said.

The government is now expected to issue fresh tenders, followed by the selection of bidders, field trials of prototypes and existing systems, and ultimately the awarding of a contract. The induction of new arms would begin after 2030.

Under this latest budget, India is seeking light tanks, mounted gun systems, ballistic helmets for infantry troops and so-called futuristic infantry combat vehicles, the ministry said. The Army estimates it needs a total of 1,750 futuristic infantry combat vehicles, 350 light tanks and about 800 mounted gun systems.

No local company in India has ever built tanks, futuristic infantry combat vehicles, or 155mm/52-caliber mounted gun systems with fully indigenous technology.

The Indian Air Force is seeking air-to-ground next-generation anti-radiation missiles, long-range guided bombs, range-augmentation kits for conventional bombs, and advanced surveillance systems.

The Defence Acquisition Council also granted approval for new naval programs for anti-ship missiles, underwater autonomous vehicles and multipurpose vessels.

Similarly, the agency approved the procurement of an unspecified quantity of fully indigenous next-generation offshore patrol vessels for the Coast Guard.

In the 2021-2022 financial year, India bought 702. 21 billion rupees worth of locally made armaments from domestic defense contractors. During the 2022-2023 financial year, India has spent about 845.98 billion rupees on locally sourced materiel.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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