Defense scenario in 2021

By Vikas Uttamrao Thombare


  1. Tejas mk 1A: –

On 14 January 2021, CCS approved the procurement of 83 Tejas (73Tejas mk1A + 10 Tejas mk1 trainer) at a cost of Rs 45,696 crore along with funds directed towards development of infrastructure worth around Rs 1202 crore.

  • Airbus C-295 deal: –

The defense ministry in the next few months is expected to sign a deal for around 2.5 billion USD for procurement of 56 airbus C-295 aircraft for IAF to replace Hawker Sidney HS-748 Avro

  • Arjun mk 1A MBT: –

Indian army has initiated the process to procure 118 arjun mk1A MBT for around 1.22 billion USD. Arjun mk 1A features 14 major upgrades over earlier mk 1 variant. It will cost around 10 million USD/unit including spares, logistics and support

  • Light combat Helicopters (LCH): –

Although 15 units were approved for production (HAL chief R Madhavan told livefist in an interview), no order was actually placed   and so, HAL chose to use their own internal funds for production of LSP version of LCH instead.  LCH has proved to be a cost-effective   for mountain patrolling during recent INDO-CHINA standoff. Now, indian army has committed to an order of 114 LCHs, while the IAF wishes to procure an additional 65 LCHs including 15 LSP variants.

  • Light utility helicopter (LUH): –

LUH is a direct competitor to KA-226T helicopter. Recently LUH completed its Ladakh (cold weather) trials in 2020. the Indian armed forces have a requirement of over 400 helicopters out of which 200 (KA-226T will be built by foreign OEM in India locally) and 187 (LUH) will be built by HAL.

  • Brahmos Export: –

   The Brahmos missile is an Indo Russian JV, and comes in three variants, Surface-to-surface, Submarine-launched, & Air-launched. India and Russia are planning to export the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to Philippines and several other south Asian countries. Though details are scanty at this point, we expect more clarity on this topic in the coming months.

  • INS Vishakhapatnam: –

INS Vishakhapatnam is the lead ship of the P-15 B Visakhapatnam-class stealth guided-missile destroyers of the Indian Navy.  It was launched on 20 April 2015 and is presently undergoing trails. INS Vishakhapatnam is expected to be inducted by the end of 2021. It is made by Mazgaon Dock Limited in Mumbai

  • INS Aright induction: –

India in 2017 quietly launched INS Arighat without any public fanfare. The upgraded variant of Arihant-class submarine, it is the second nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine being built by India. It is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2021 alongside INS Vikrant

  • INS Vikrant induction: –

INS Vikrant successfully completed its basin trials at Cochin Shipyard Limited in 2019 and is expected to undergo sea trials in Q1 2021.

  1. Sprut 2S25 light tank: –

India under emergency procurement method will procure around 25 tanks from Russia for its theater of operations along the LAC. These will be complemented by an indigenous light tank that will be jointly developed by DRDO and L&T on the basis of inputs from Indian army and will be based on K-9 vajra’s chassis, engine coupled with a Belgian 105 mm gun.

  1. Kamov KA-226T: –

Following its selection in tender, KA-226T was selected for India’s requirement of 197 helicopters (135 for Indian Army and 65 for Indian Air Force) and will be built in a JV between HAL (51%) and Rosboron Export (49%) at the Tumkuru plant with TOT and higher indigenous content 

  1. Deal for 12 su-30mki+21 mig-29: –

India has approved 2.36 billion USD purchase of 21 MiG- 29’s and 12 SU-30 mki jets. It has expedited the deal seeing the operational availability of MiG-29 and plans to keep production running at HAL’s Nashik facility for another year until the production of Tejas mk1A begins.

 Topics of discussion of 2021

  1. P-75I submarine: –

We could hear more about the deal and the competitive designs that would be offered to Indian navy for review in 2021

  • Aircraft carrier or Submarines: –

We could also hear about the most debated topic i.e., whether navy will procure either submarines or aircraft carriers. Expect the debate to garner limelight and maybe we will hear something from the top officials

  • NUH deal: –

There will be a major movement in this field as Indian Navy is set to replace its ageing assets and we can very well expect a winner by 2021 end

  • IMRH: –

Since HAL is continuing the development of Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) on its own and hence has dedicated its own internal funds for development of IMRH. HAL has been working and designing a medium helicopter since 2017 and hence we might see a faster development cycle that would meet current requirements of Indian armed forces.

  • Metal cutting for MWF: –

Since all the required infrastructure, including jigs, are already in place for the development of MWF aka Tejas mk 2, we can expect to start metal cutting for the same in coming months post Aero India 2021 (around April-May). in this HAL will be a lead integrator and major components including fuselage sections (front, middle and rear), and wings will be sourced from private sector companies; that should give the required boost to aviation industry post COVID-19.

  • JV for jet engine development: –

There can be a big update announcement regarding the development of jet engines for TEDBF and AMCA. India will get to keep the IPR (intellectual property rights) for the engine. Rolls Royce is considered a front runner in this JV development. This project too will see a major role of private sector in its development and work share agreements will also be signed.


We could gain better clarity on whether India will go with ATAGS or ATHOS following the summer trials of ATAGS in May-June. Even though ATAGS is a beefy, Indian Army is reportedly impressed with its the state-of-the-art electronic subsystem and its firing range of 48 Kms which is longest in its class and ATAGS holds a record for longest kill in its class.

Its 25-liter barrel chamber firing 155mm ammunition gives it a distinctive edge over its closest competitors which typically feature barrel chambers measuring 23 liters

  • MMRCA-2.0 or 36 off the shelf Rafale: –

We would also get more clarity on whether India will procure 114 fighter jets via tenders, or go for off the shelf purchase of additional 36 Rafales to both maintain its critical operational requirements as well as to supplement its depleting squadron strength


We can very well expect about the full-scale variant of AURA in 2021 as its landing gears and engine (dry variant of Kaveri engine) are ready for further integration

  1. Rustom-II (MALE): –

Rustom-II is also expected to garner limelight due to the role of drones in modern warfare {Armenia- Azerbaijan (Nagorno karba)} and its development and its induction may be fast-tracked.

  1. S-5 class SSBN: –

Since photographs of its small mockup was leaked, the S-5 has generated its own hype in 2019 due to its enormous size. Its design seems to incorporate a high level of western influence. It is thought have an even greater displacement than the INS Arighat.

  1. Sikorsky MH-60R helicopter: –

India will also induct MH-60R helicopters in 2021 that will be deployed onboard ASW (anti-submarine warfare) crafts, IAC-1 and frontline destroyers. India will receive its 3 units in 2021 for training.

  1. S-400 triumph Induction: –

India plans to induct S-400 ADS (air defense system) in 2021 and deliveries of 1st regiment is expected to commence by later this year and is expected to be completed by 2025

  1. Carrier wing finalization for INS Vikrant: –

In 2021, the acquisition/leasing of fighter jets will see more accelerated pace of procurement. Along with fighter jets, India plans procure 6 Kamov KA-31 ASW helicopters from Russia under a follow-on order. Also, IAC-1 will feature MH-60R (for ASW) and ALH Dhruv for transportation of supplies and personnel from one ship to other.

  1. Talwar class frigate construction: –

In coming months, GSL (Goa Shipyard Limited) is expected to upgrade existing infrastructure and absorb the required technological know-how under the TOT agreement with Russia

  1. Swarm drones: –

The Indian army has enhanced its drone capabilities by inducting indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used to either supply frontline formations, or even carry out strikes on enemy positions.

  1. Airbus A330 MRTT buy/lease: –

We could get more clarity on whether IAF will purchase 6 Airbus A330s or prefer to ‘dry lease’ them. Another option available to us would be to evaluate the French proposal involving selling 5–7-year-old six aircraft for the air force with a certification of another 30 years of platform life at a much-reduced rate

  1. Implementation of Theater Commands: –

Indian armed forces will undertake formation of theater command for its land, naval, and air assets to enhance interoperability among forces and collectively bring its assets under one umbrella for optimum and effective utilization of resources

Edited by PK Waghare

One comment

  1. Two thronged strategy to empower Indian Forces as well as to strengthen Indian Economy thru make in India initiative – well written article👍

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