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Raising of Mountain Strike Corps by six years: Army chief

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag on Wednesday said that the Mountain Strike Corps, aimed at countering threats from China, would be raised as per the schedule by 2021 and termed acquisition of artillery guns and third generation missiles as "critical areas" for modernisation of the force.

He pushed for the 'Make in India' initiative and said the force was setting up an Army Design Bureau to concentrate on design and providing technological inputs to DRDO and Ordinance Factory Board.

He said that 84 per cent of the procurement contracts signed during the last two years by the Army has been with Indian companies.

Suhag added that maximum army procurement schemes in the last five years have been for Indian companies and it stood at 73 per cent.

Asked about reports that the government was restructuring the Mountain Strike Corps, he said there is no move to slow down its raising.

"A target was kept of nine years and we are on target to raise it by 2021," he told reporters here. He added that there has been no budgetary cuts.

Talking about the modernisation process, he said that acquisition of artillery guns, third generation missiles, upgrading armoured vehicles, augmenting army aviation and strengthening infantry were among "critical areas" for force modernization which are being fast-tracked.

Even Gen Suhag he lamented that critical acquisition had been stuck over the past eight years, he said things are moving now.

Suhag said that there had not been procurement of a major artillery gun for the last 28 years. He pointed out that Defence Acquisition Council had cleared acquisition of 814 155mm/52 caliber mounted gun system.

Referring to the third generation anti-tank guided missiles, he said a project of over 8,000 missiles had been cleared, while proposals concerning helicopters for army aviation, upgrading of armoured vehicles, night vision devices for mechanised forces and assault rifle and bullet-proof jackets for the infantry were "moving on fast track."

He identified cyber security as the major non-traditional challenge for the army.

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