Leasing crucial military equipment easy way for govt but a tough choice for Indian forces

By The Print

Last month, India inducted two American high-altitude long endurance drones into the Navy — Sea Guardian, the unarmed version of the deadly Predator series — on lease. While these were procured under a one-year contract from an American firm, the Navy has also gone in for leasing of a logistics ship from an Indian firm.

The drones and the vessel were the first two equipment procured under the leasing option that was introduced in the new Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 unveiled in September.

The DAP describes leasing as a “means to possess and operate (a military) asset without owning the asset” and adds that it provides a useful way “to substitute huge initial capital outlays with periodical rental payments”.

While India has on-lease Russian nuclear submarine Chakra, it is a special case and is being used for strategic purposes.

Being the first to kick off the leasing process under new rules, the Navy is also looking at leasing some more critical equipment. And it is not alone. The Air Force and the Army, too, are actively looking at leasing equipment.

As Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said during his annual press conference Thursday, the lease option could be used in case there’s a gap found in achieving critical capabilities.

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