India to continue with defense modernization program

By Xinhua,

NEW DELHI : India said on Monday it will continue with its armed forces modernization and research program despite economic slowdown.

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“We will provide you whatever you want to safeguard India’s national interests,” Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said when addressing a meeting of top-ranking defense personnel at an international seminar in south India’s southern Bangalore City.

Admitting that the country is still far away from becoming self-reliant in the defense sector, Antony said the economic slowdown would not affect modernization of the armed forces.

The defense minister said that the government will soon enhance its budget on the armed forces research and development program. At present, the country spends only six percent of its budget on military research and defense.

Earlier in the day, India’s Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Fali H. Major stressed the need for joint ventures in the defense and aerospace sector to develop world-class niche technologies.

“India must identify core technologies to be developed, and aggressively design and manufacture them. Attempting to design and develop everything is not cost-effective,” he said at the three-day seminar which began Monday in Bangalore.

Indian military officials say more than 70 percent of modern weapons and military equipment are imported from Russia and Western countries.