Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee hiked the allocation for defence by 34 percent to Rs 141, 703 crore (Rs 1.417 trillion) in the interim budget for 2009-10 he presented in the Lok Sabha. "We are going through tough times," Mukherjee said while explaining the rationale for the hike. "The Mumbai terror attacks have given an entirely new dimension to cross-border terrorism. A threshold has been crossed. Our security environment has deteriorated considerably," the minister commented. Service-wise, the Indian army accounts for the largest share of the 2009-10 budget with an approximate allocation of Rs 76,680 crores, followed by its air force (Rs 34,432 crores) and the navy (Rs. 20,604 crores). While the Ordnance Factories (OF) have a budget of Rs 1, 505.45 crores, the DRDO's budget is Rs 8,481.54 crores. India already ranks among the top-ten countries vis--vis military spending. SIPRI's table below shows the ten biggest spenders converted into constant (2005) US dollars using market exchange rates: Rank, Country, Spending ($b), World share (%) (1) USA, 547, 45%, (2) UK, 59.7, 5%; (3) China, 58.3, 5%; (4) France, 53.6, 4%; (5) Japan, 43.6, 4%; (6) Germany, 36.9, 3%; (7) Russia, 35.4, 3%; (8) Saudi Arabia, 33.8, 3%, (9) Italy, 33.1, 3%; (10) India, 24.2, 2%. Despite the Indian armed forces' heavy spending, India suffers from poor planning. For Financial Year 2006-07, a sum of Rs 3,000 crore was surrendered as unspent. The fact that 155 mm ammunition for the Bofors Howitzer had to be imported from South Africa during the Kargil conflict in 1999 tells its own tale of persistent mismanagement. The indigenously designed Arjun MBT (main battle tank) has been in the pipeline for over two decades, since it has consistently failed to meet the Indian army's GSQR for an MBT. The Indian army seriously lacks a potent firepower punch, especially in the mountain sector. Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs) have still to enter service in numbers large enough to make a real difference. The last major acquisition of towed gun-Howitzers was that of about 400 pieces of 39-calibre 155mm FH-77B Howitzers form Bofors of Sweden in the mid-1980s. Just when a contract for 120 tracked and 180 wheeled self-propelled (SP) 155mm guns was about to be concluded after years of protracted trials, South African arms manufacturer Denel, a leading contender for the contract, was alleged to have been involved in a corruption scam in an earlier deal for anti-material rifles (AMRs). The other two Howitzers in contention, from Soltam of Israel and BAE (Bofors) of Sweden did not meet the laid down criteria according to the COAS and Indian GHQ recommended fresh trials, setting the programme back at least three to four years. The Kvadrat missile system that has been the backbone of air defence for strike formations since the early 1970s has become obsolete and need urgent replacement. However, the DRDO's indigenous Akash medium-range and Trishul short-range missile projects have failed miserably. Another DRDO project that is way behind schedule is the Nag anti-tank missile system. Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is already facing obsolescence even before its induction. India is speeding a nearly $1 billion domestic weapons development programme to modernise its armed forces. The plans include inducting 124 MBTs for the Indian army by December 2009, a batch of locally made combat aircraft for the navy, also by the end of the year, and unmanned aerial vehicles to boost border surveillance. 126 new fighter aircraft are awaiting induction. In August 2008, India's Defence Ministry approved a $2.5bn joint IAI-Rafael deal to develop a new and advanced version of the Spyder surface-to-air missile system. Last month IAF received the first of three new Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) developed for it by Israel Aerospace Industries. The sides are in talks for the possible purchase of another three AWACS. Another system India recently purchased from Israel is the Aerostat radar which will be deployed in strategic points to provide advance warning against incoming enemy aircraft and missiles. The deal is valued at $600m. The EL/M-2083 Aerostat radars are a simpler version of the Green Pine radar, made by Israel Aerospace Industries, and used by the Arrow missile defence system. The phased-array radars are mounted on blimp-like balloons tethered to the ground and capable of detecting intrusions earlier than ground-based radar systems. Following the Mumbai attacks, Israel and India also agreed upon the joint development of medium-range surface-to-air missiles (MRSAM) for the air force. The modernisation plans include developing the Agni-5 missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hitting targets 5,000km away, and torpedoes. Pakistan should not be overly worried at this build-up. It has never matched Indian weapon systems numerically i.e. bullet for bullet, tank for tank, fighter for fighter and warship for warship. Its best hope lies in the induction of state-of-the-art technology, be it in limited numbers. Hi-tech weapon systems backed by realistic training and advanced maintenance capabilities, where Pakistan already has an edge, will keep the enemy at bay. The writer is a political and defence analyst