Hiring aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF), a raise in financial powers at the headquarters and field formations are parts of a new policy that was unveiled by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday. The changes are aimed at enhancing operational readiness and bringing in more synergy within the forces.

The defence minister released the order on Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS) 2021, providing enhanced revenue procurement powers to the armed forces, the defence ministry said in a statement.

“The DFPDS 2021 aims to empower field formations, focus on operational preparedness, promote ease of doing business and enhance jointness among the services,” the statement said.

In a major policy change for the Indian Air Force, a new schedule on hiring aircraft and associated equipment has been introduced. This includes hiring air to air refuelers.

The move will help the air force enhance its capability by taking equipment on the lease if required instead of going for the long-drawn procurement process in case of emergency requirements.

“The enhanced delegation of financial powers to functionaries in service headquarters and lower formations would result in quicker decision making at all levels leading to better planning and operational preparedness of the Services in a quicker time frame and optimum utilisation of resources,” the defence ministry said.

The new policy empowers field commanders (and below) to procure equipment for urgent operational necessities and meeting essential sustenance requirements. The last such enhancement at all levels for the defence services was done in 2016.

Speaking on the occasion, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh described the DFPDS 2021 as another big step in the series of defence reforms undertaken by the government to strengthen the security infrastructure of the country.

Among the changes, an enhancement of up to two times has been approved for the Competent Financial Authorities (CFAs). In certain schedules, this enhancement at field formations is in the range of up to 5-10 times on account of operational requirements.

Delegated financial powers of the vice-chiefs of the services have been increased by 10 per cent, subject to an overall ceiling of Rs 500 crore. Financial powers of the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) as CFA has also been enhanced substantially and aligned with that of the vice-chiefs of the services.

There has been an addition to the list of CFAs. These include Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Master General Sustenance, ADG (Procurement), DG Air Operations/DG Naval Operations in Service Headquarters.

In the field formations, the enhanced financial powers can be used on account of reorganisation, restructuring, functional requirements.

“An enabling provision of Emergency Financial Powers [EFP] to the field formations below command level for the defence services has now been incorporated in the Emergency Powers Schedule [EPS] which till present was available to vice-chiefs and commander-in-chief’s level.”

New schedules for Field Commanders Special Financial Powers to meet strategic or operational requirements, in line with the existing army schedule on “Army Commanders Special Financial Powers" have been introduced for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.

Substantial enhancement has been approved in the schedules related to indigenisation or research and development up to three times of the existing powers, in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat programme.

For the Indian Navy, powers for replenishment of disaster management bricks have been delegated to command level for immediate response to natural disasters or HADR (high availability disaster recovery) operations.