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India Raises Its Defence Budget By Nearly 13% to $72.6 Billion

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India on Wednesday suggested spending 5.94 lakh crore ($72.6 billion) on defense for the fiscal year 2023–2024, an increase of nearly 13% from initial projections for the prior period. India wants to build more roads and fighter jets along its tense border with China.

According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who unveiled the government’s budget on Wednesday, the military will be able to develop and/or purchase advanced weapons systems, including new fighter jets, submarines, and tanks, with a 12.95 percent increase in the 2023–24 defense budget, from 5.85 lakh crore ($ 71.40 billion) to 5.94 lakh crore ($72.6 billion). 

The defense budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in March, was also revised by Sitharaman from an earlier estimate of 5.25 lakh crore ($64.09 billion) to 5.85 lakh crore ($ 71.40 billion).

She added that the capital budget has grown by almost 10,000 crore ($1.22 billion), ending up at 1.62 lakh crore ($19.77 billion).

She also stated that in 2023–2024, 2.77 lakh crore ($33.81 billion) would be spent on military salaries and benefits, 1.38 lakh crore ($16.84 billion) on pensions for retiring soldiers, and additional sums for other expenses.

Increased from 1.52 lakh crore ($18.55 billion) to 1.62 lakh crore ($19.77 billion), the armed services’ modernization budget includes a sizable chunk for the purchase of weapon systems and equipment from domestic producers in accordance with the government’s “Make in India” policy. Only about 6.5% of the modernization budget has increased, which is considered a minor increase. The budgetary allocation for capital outlay in 2022–2023 was revised to 1.5 lakh crore ($18.31 billion).

According to Indian news agency PTI, the budget documents stated that 2.70 lakh crore ($32.95 billion) has been set aside for revenue expenditures, which includes salaries and establishment maintenance. 2.39 lakh crore ($29.16 billion) was budgeted for revenue spending in 2022–2023.

Defense pensions have been allotted 1.38 lakh crore ($16.84 billion).

What gear are the military forces going to purchase?

In addition to investing in homegrown fighter jets, the Air Force intends to buy new fighter aircraft as part of its ambitions to introduce next-generation (4.5) fighter planes.

The Navy is also interested in purchasing fighter jets from France, but it is unlikely that a contract will be reached this year as the necessary steps have not yet been taken.

For 26 new deck-based fighters for INS Vikrant, the locally produced aircraft carrier that will partner INS Vikramaditya, the French-built Rafale-M beat the American F/A-18 Super Hornet last year.

If the Navy purchases the maritime version, maintenance will be simpler because the Air Force already has two Rafale squadrons. Although it would take some time, the Navy is also concentrating on procurement of submarines under Project 75 India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has increased military modernization spending in recent years while reiterating his administration’s commitment to increasing local production to support forces stationed along two problematic borders.

For operational needs on the Ladakh front, the Army will begin the process of acquiring light tanks and artillery systems, according to PTI.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the budget for this year should “bring about positive improvements… lead us to attaining our aim of being a US$5 trillion economy.”

According to the most recent budget document, India intends to invest close to $3 billion in the development of its navy fleet and $7 billion in the acquisition of new aircraft for its air force.

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