NEW DELHI (Agencies) India is set to spend a whopping US$200 billion on defence acquisitions over the next 12 years to replace its outdated Soviet-vintage inventory. This is likely to spark off arms race in South Asia. According to a study by the India Strategic defence magazine, nearly half of this funding ($100b) will go to the Indian Air Force (IAF), which would need to replace more than half of its combat jet fleet as well as the entire transport aircraft and helicopter fleet. The army needs new guns, tanks, rocket launchers, multi-terrain vehicles while the navy needs ships, aircraft carriers, an entire new range of submarines including nuclear-propelled and nuclear-armed. The army has the largest requirement of helicopters while the navy needs both combat jets, helicopters, and a fleet of nearly 100 carrier-borne combat jets. The details of the study will be published in March but according to a brief report in India Strategics DefExpo show daily being published Monday (today), 70 per cent of the inventory of the Indian Armed Forces is 20-plus years old, and needs to be replaced as well as augmented with the sophistication of modern technology. There have been few defence deals after the allegations over the acquisition of Bofors in the 1980s, and Russia, which inherited the Soviet military infrastructure, is unable to meet all the requirements. According to official Russian reports, only 10 per cent of the Russian weapons could be described as modern. Plans to acquire surveillance aircraft, lesser in capability though the IAFs Phalcon AWACs and the navys P8-I Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) are also being worked out. Pilotless intelligence aircraft (drones) generally called UAVs, including those armed, are also on the top of the list of the three arms of the forces. The report says that the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, in which scores were brutally killed and wounded, has given a wake-up call to India and that the authorities had realised that 24-hour, 360-degree eyes and ears and preparedness to meet any attack were a necessity. That also meant increased diplomatic and security cooperation with other countries. It may be noted that the only major aircraft to be acquired by the IAF is the Su-30 MKI, some 280 of which have already been ordered in successive follow-on deals that do not involve fresh tendering and are easy to go through procedurally. The Indian Air Force has a plan to build 45 combat squadrons (about 900 aircraft), up from its maximum effective strength of 39.5 squadrons a few years ago. Many of its aircraft have been phased out due to simple ageing.