1. IAF CONTEMPLATING TO BUY MOTHBALLED RUSSIAN MIG-29s
The IAF in its desperation to make up for the shortfall in its dwindling fighter squadrons is contemplating buying 21 mothballed MiG-29 aircraft (aircraft prepared for a long period of storage to prevent corrosion) from Russia. These fighters were built in the 1980s but never assembled and flown. They could be assembled and upgraded in line with the current and in progress modernisation of the Mig-29s—extension of operational life from 25 years (2,500 flight hours) to 40 years (3,500 hours).
2. CONTRACT FOR PROCUREMENT OF 72,400 ASSAULT RIFLES
As per the Defence Ministry, a contract for procurement of 72,400 Sig Sauer assault rifles has been signed with the United State (US) on February 12, 2019 at a cost of approximate Rs 700 crore via the Fast Track Procedure. The delivery of these rifles will be completed in one year. A separate case for additional such modern Assault Rifles is in progress to equip the rest of the Army. Meanwhile, media reports indicate that a pact to manufacture 7.5 lakh 7.62 x 39 mm guns - a derivative of AK-47 rifle, at ordinance factory Korwa, is being signed with Russia as a joint venture akin to BrahMos supersonic cruise missile deal.
3. PM MODI LAYS FOUNDATION STONE FOR SELA TUNNEL
On February 9, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the strategically important Sela Tunnel Project in Arunachal Pradesh. The Rs 700 crore project is planned to be completed in next three years by the Border Roads Organisation. Once completed, the 12 km long tunnel would reduce the distance and travel time to China border via Tawang by almost 10 km and ensure accessibility to the region throughout the year. During this visit, the Prime Minister also inaugurated an upgraded airport at Tezu.
4. EXPRESSION OF INTEREST FOR 111 NAVAL UTILITY HELICOPTERS
On February 12, 2019, MoD has issued Expression of Interest (s) for shortlisting of potential Indian Strategic Partners and foreign OEMs for the ‘Procurement of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters for the Indian Navy. These helicopters will replace the Chetak Helicopters. 95 helicopters out of 111 will be manufactured in India by the selected Indian Strategic Partner. The case was approved by DAC on August 25, 2018. The project is likely to provide major boost to Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and fillip to manufacturing capability for helicopters in India.