India's Rafale fighter jets in Paris during the Bastille Day flypast on Friday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@EtatMajorFR)
In a step aimed to help save funds in a big way, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) is working towards creating a system where maintenance of common weapon systems and platforms are done jointly by forces.
Working towards creating joint fighting formations under the Theatre Commands, the DMA has already started joint procurement of weapon systems and is now looking at joint maintenance of weapon platforms, defence officials told ANI. A number of discussions have been held between the stakeholders from the three services and integrated defence staff on the matter.
Even if we look around today, the light helicopters including the Cheetah/ Chetak fleet are operated by the three services and if they are maintained jointly, they can lead to savings, they said.
The Dornier aircraft is another example which is operated by the Indian Air Force, Navy and the Coast Guard and if they are maintained jointly, we can even improve serviceability along with savings.
The relatively new aircraft fleet would also be now maintained jointly as the Apache attack helicopters coming from the United States for the Indian Army would be maintained along with the existing fleet of the Indian Air Force.
The Army has already posted its personnel to the Indian Air Force units operating these attack choppers for training on operations of these choppers.
Officials said the Indian Navy decision to go for the Rafale, which is common fighter aircraft also flying with the Indian Air Force, will help in joint maintenance of the fleet and can help in improving the management of their spares and other equipment.
The joint acquisition case of buying 31 Predator drones from the US for all the three services caters for a common maintenance, repair and overhaul facility within the country.
The Defence forces have also now started working in combined acquisitions and major programmes like the major ones to buy light helicopters, Indian Multirole Helicopters, Medium Altitude Long Endurance drones would all have common maintenance facilities.
The weapon systems acquired by the defence forces are maintained using their revenue funds and commonality of platforms and maintenance facilities can help in savings.