India working to address impediments to military modernisation: US

Aimed at addressing the problems of ageing equipment and to better posture itself in defence against Pakistan and China, Modi government is working to address impediments to its major military modernisation drive, the Pentagon has said.

Washington: Aimed at addressing the problems of ageing equipment and to better posture itself in defence against Pakistan and China, Modi government is working to address impediments to its major military modernisation drive, the Pentagon has said.

"India is in the midst of a major military modernisation effort - undertaken by all three military services - to address problems with its ageing equipment and to better posture itself to defend against both Pakistan and China," Lt Gen Vincent R Stewart, Director of Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on global threat assessment Tuesday.

New Delhi, he said, is working to address impediments to modernisation, such as its cumbersome procurement process, budget constraints, and a domestic defense industry that has struggled to provide military equipment that meets service requirements.

Noting that relations with Pakistan remain strained, Stewart said both sides engaged in periodic skirmishes on or near the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, resulting in the highest number of civilian casualties since 2003.

Occasional unofficial Track-II dialogue continued throughout the year, but resulted in little progress in resolving bilateral disputes, he observed.

Stewart said New Delhi and Beijing maintain limited military-to-military engagement and continue to discuss their longstanding border dispute, despite occasional altercations between troops patrolling the border.

"India is concerned over Chinese logistical improvements along the border and is raising additional ground forces, improving logistical capacity, and is basing advanced fighter aircraft opposite the China border. India also is concerned over China's increased activity in South Asia and the Indian Ocean," he said.

"India continues to conduct periodic tests of its nuclear-capable missiles to enhance and verify missile reliability and capabilities. In early December 2014, India successfully tested the Agni-IV intermediate-range ballistic missile, which New Delhi claims has a range of 4,000 kilometers," he said.

The top Pentagon intelligence official said India will continue developing an ICBM, the Agni-VI, which will reportedly carry multiple warheads, and is working on the development of several variants of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

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