Chennai, April 11: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the country’s armed forces were free to purchase defence equipment from anywhere in the world. Speaking at the opening of the four-day DefExpo at Thiruvidanthai near Chennai on Wednesday, Sitharaman said that the armed forces could not be forced to go for ‘Made In India’ equipment.

While it would be nice if the forces went for indigenous equipment, she said, they were free to pick and choose their equipment from anywhere in the world, reported NDTV.  Indian military is the biggest buyer of defence equipment but hopes to be a key manufacturer and exporter too. Today, said the minister, there are demands from a few foreign countries to buy missiles from India but she refused to divulge any names.

India currently imports almost 70 percent of its defence equipment. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the defence and research wing of the Ministry of Defence, today handed over three indigenously developed technologies to the Indian Navy, reported The Times of India. These included heavyweight torpedo, Varunastra. It also transferred ten technologies,  including grenades, missiles and sonars, to private and public sector undertakings for manufacture for the armed forces.

Minister Sitharaman handed over the three technologies to Naval chief Sunil Lamba. These were for process-based mines (PBBM) and VLF modulator, apart from Varunastra. A DRDO official was quoted as saying that Varunastra was a system built to intercept all radars, PPBM was deployable from ships and could deter enemy movement and VLF modulator “is a long-range communication system that we have handed over to the Navy”.