NEW DELHI — India has set aside 1.62 trillion rupees (U.S. $19.64 billion) to buy new weapons and platforms primarily sourced through domestic defense contractors during the 2023-2024 time frame.
India’s annual budget for that financial year, released Feb. 1, envisages a total outlay of 45.03 trillion rupees. The government has allocated 5.93 trillion rupees for defense, which is about 13% of the total budget. This includes 1.38 trillion rupees for defense-related pensions.
The total defense budget is an increase over the previous financial year by 683.71 billion rupees, or about 13%.
“This increase is a reflection of the Government’s commitment towards sustainable augmentation in the area of modernisation & infrastructure development of the Defence Services,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
During this financial year — which runs April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024 — the money set aside for procuring new weapons is 1.62 trillion rupees, while funds for stores, spares, repairs and the like is 2.70 trillion rupees.
The allocation of funds for non-salary, operational purposes (such as repairs, food supplies, clothing, transportation costs, etc.) gets a boost of 275.7 billion rupees, to about 900 billion rupees in this financial year, compared to 624.31 billion rupees last financial year.
“This will cater to sustenance of Weapon Systems, Platforms including Ships/Aircrafts & their logistics; boost fleet serviceability; emergency procurement of critical ammunition and spares; procuring/hiring of niche capabilities to mitigate capability gaps wherever required; progress stocking of military reserves, strengthening forward defences, amongst others,” the Defence Ministry said.
The MoD added that during the midterm review, the government added 260 billion rupees for making outstanding payments toward previously committed liabilities.
Amit Cowshish, a former financial adviser for the ministry, told Defense News that, amid efforts to boost the economy, the government has done its best to raise the defense budget. Now it’s up to the armed forces to make the best use of their respective funds, he said.
The capital expenditure or outlay is meant for the procurement of new weapons and platforms as well as to pay off outstanding committed liabilities for past defense contracts.
The capital outlay for the Indian Army has increased to 372.41 billion rupees for the 2023-2024 time frame, compared to 320.15 billion rupees in the last financial year. The service plans to buy drones, loitering munitions, small arms and light tanks, as well as upgrade existing tanks and armored personnel carriers.
The capital outlay for the Navy increased to 528.04 billion rupees, from 475.90 billion rupees. The service wants to spend this money on ship-borne drones, loitering munitions, missiles, satellites and new small ships.
The capital outlay for the Air Force saw only a marginal increase to 571.37 billion rupees, from 555.86 billion rupees. The service plans to buy new air defense systems, missiles, UAVs, anti-drone systems, satellites and combat helicopters.
The capital outlay for defense-related research and development is 232.64 billion rupees, which will help with the indigenous development of new military technologies.
The budget for the Border Roads Organisation, which falls under the purview of the MoD, will particularly help the force operating along the border with China. The funding increased by about 43% to 50 billion rupees, from 35 billion rupees.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.