New Delhi: A report by the standing Committee on Defence, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha today, said there is an urgent need to build defence capabilities to face any challenge including a "two-front war". The report, which said that India's defence expenditure was lowest compared to countries like China and Pakistan in terms of GDP, highlighted huge gaps between the required and existing force levels. In its report, the Standing Committee on Defence said there was a need to allocate adequate budget for the three armed forces.
The report stressed on faster acquisition of planes for the Indian Air Force due to a critical shortage of aircrafts. The report said that level of criticality has been reached and there is an urgent need to ensure that acquisitions are put on fast track. The Committee's report pointed out that the Air Force currently has 34 fighter squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42.
On the Army, the report said if the sanctioned and existing strength in the aerial arm of the Army is compared, "There is shortage of 18 Cheetah, 1 Chetak, 76 ALH Dhruv and 60 ALH (Weapon Systems Integrated) with Army Aviation". The report also said that the Indian Army is facing a shortage of 10,526 officers.
The report also recommended more funds for the Indian Navy.
Earlier this month, the standing committee, which is headed by Congress MP Satpal Maharaj, met the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force a day after the combined commanders conference, where the country's overall defence strategy was analysed.