No constraint of funds for modernisation of forces: Antony

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New Delhi, Apr 21 (UNI) Defence Minister A K Antony today asserted that funds would never be a constraint in the modernisation of the armed forces, but at the same time called for judicious and optimal utilisation of allocations to avoid wastage and duplication.

Inaugurating the biannual Air Force Commanders Conference here, he also called upon the defence scientists to evolve ways to skip the intermediate steps in the country's quest for attaining the level of modernisation achieved by developed nations.

''Funds will not be a constraint for the modernisation process.

However, the allocated funds must be utilised optimally and judiciously. While the drive for modernisation must not suffer, we must be ever mindful of economy and avoid waste and duplication,'' the Defence Minister added.

At the same time, he said it should be ensured that the twin processes of modernisation and indigenisation of the armed forces proceed simultaneously.

Mr Antony urged the scientific fraternity to think of ''ways and means'' to attain the levels of modernisation achieved by advanced states without necessarily having to follow all intermediate steps.

The four-day conference, being attended by Air Chief Marshal F H Major and Air Officers Commanding in Chiefs besides Principal Staff Officers of Air Headquarters, would discuss the operational challenges before the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Issues such as maintenance, flight safety, administrative and logistics would be discussed threadbare at the conference.

The Defence Minister stressed the need for steps to hasten the procurement process ''to plug gaps in the country's defence preparedness''.

''It is also imperative that procurement procedures are followed diligently. As the gestation period for induction of new equipment is rather long, the Commanders should break down perspective plans for modernisation into short-term and long-term objectives taking into account our strategic requirements.'' MORE UNI AG RR BD1715

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