New Delhi: The Defence Ministry is not very hopeful of getting an additional Rs 40,000 crore for modernisation of the armed forces with Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday saying he was struggling to get even the Rs 1.93 lakh crore allotted by the government in the budget.

"Now I am struggling to get the budgetary amount," he told reporters here when asked if he was hopeful of getting the additional Rs 40,000 crore sought by his Ministry for modernising the three Services.

The Defence Minister was interacting with reporters on the sidelines of an Army seminar on defence communication networks.

Antony, however, ruled out any cut in the defence budget, saying, "These are all rumours. Our Ministry is trying to speed up (the modernisation process) without compromising procedures. From our Ministry's side, there is no question of slowing down."

The Defence Ministry has been allocated Rs 1.93 lakh crore in the budget for the current fiscal. It has also made a demand for an additional Rs 40,000 crore for meeting modernisation requirements of the three Services.

Experts feel shortage of funds may lead delays in major modernisation programmes of the armed forces including plans to acquire the 126 combat aircraft.

The Defence Minister had on Wednesday asked the Armed Forces to focus in the remaining part of the current fiscal mainly on projects affecting their operational readiness.

During a review meeting, he told the three Services Vice Chiefs that they should adopt a "focussed approach" for the remaining part of the financial year and speed up procurements which have a direct linkage to their operational readiness.

Asked about the action taken in the Tatra truck case, the Defence Minister said, "The entire thing is with CBI and an inquiry is going on. You better check with CBI."

On talk about a possible cut in the defence budget, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, "What is there to talk about speculation."

Addressing the seminar on communication networks, the Defence Minister said against the backdrop of network-centric challenges faced by the armed forces, they must possess a capability to detect any "misadventure" on borders and respond to it immediately.

Antony asked the Army to take steps in this direction and try to keep pace with technology as "failure to do so will make any organisation weak and ill-informed."

He said opportunity lay in blending India's software development skills with indigenous manufacturing capability to effectively allow the nation's armed forces to secure the borders.

The Minister said indigenisation of information and communication technology, electronics and cyber (ICTEC) systems for defence forces has a long way to go and the challenges should be acted upon sooner than later.

He said the decision makers in the armed forces should be able to receive reliable and actionable information under all circumstances, which a robust Tactical Communication System (TCS) can deliver.

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said the guiding objective is to achieve self-reliance and technical sovereignty in TCS through indigenisation of designs and standards.

He said TCS has to be "dynamic and resilient with multiple redundancies. While the transition to the TCS environment will be gradual, it is important that the solider in the battle space does not have to deal with multiple communication devices."

Singh said the overall aim should be to develop reliable, mobile, high-speed convergence networks that are inter-operable with even old systems and function in a joint services environment.


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