Armed forces free to choose Indian or foreign equipment: Sitharaman

Chennai: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the armed forces had been given the choice to choose their equipment–Indian or imported–as per their needs.
Though India is looking to export some military equipment, it does not mean that the armed forces–the Army, IAF and the Navy–can be imposed with a kind of diktat to use only Indian equipment.
Sitharaman, while addressing the media at the ‘Def-expo-2108’ here, said: “I am also telling the forces to procure from the indigenous sources, but the forces are free to decide what they need for their readiness. They are free to choose their equipment.”
It is their call on how many Indian-produced missiles or equipment fits into their plans and I have to respect that, the Defence Minister said. “They are using indigenous products, may be not as much as we would want, however, there is a fine line. The forces will have to take a call on what they need,” Sitharaman said.
International think-tank, SIPRI, on March 12, reconfirmed that India, yet again, emerged as the biggest importer of weapons in the world, with around 70 per cent of its weapons being imported.
Talking about the ‘Def-expo’, she said this year they had been very clear that India would be a manufacturer of defence equipment and they had the potential to export.
“We have given an opportunity to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to have multiple space to display.