India Raises Defense Budget

India Raises Defense BudgetIndia Raises Defense Budget

India announced on Saturday a 7.9 percent increase in defense spending for the fiscal year starting April 1, suggesting that it will move only gradually with the military’s long wish list for fighter jets, ships and artillery.

After years of neglect, India is trying to narrow the military gap with China, which has been building up its fleet of ships and submarines making forays in the Indian Ocean, Reuters reported.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, unveiling the federal budget for 2015/16, said defense spending will rise to $40.07 billion (2.47 trillion Indian rupees). For the current fiscal year, the allocation was 2.29 trillion rupees, a jump of 12 percent over the previous year.

“Defense of every inch of our land is above everything else,” Jaitley said.

India has ordered 126 fighter aircraft from Dassault, 197 light helicopters, 145 Ultra-light Howitzers, 15 Apache attack helicopters and 22 CH-47F Chinook medium lift helicopters.

Last year, the two neighbors were locked in a stand-off on their disputed Himalayan border that cast a shadow on President Xi Jinping’s first summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.