The central government has cancelled multiple deals for the purchase of short-range Surface-to-Air missiles and a tender for the purchase of 14 choppers for the Indian Coast Guard. This decision is being viewed as a strong message to the domestic defence sector.

A decision in this regard was taken during a meeting of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in New Delhi on Friday. The meeting was held to review import deals with foreign vendors, top government sources told India Today.

This was the first in a series of meetings of the Defence Ministry to push Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative.

A large number of defence import deals have already been reviewed, sources say, adding that they will not be allowed to progress any further.

Many other deals are under review, including the purchase of six more P-8I surveillance aircraft and Klub anti-ship cruise missiles for the Navy and Russian VSHORAD (very short-range air defence) missile system for the Army.

The initiative came after PM Modi chaired a review meeting with officials of the Ministry of Defence last year. The then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, who died in a chopper crash on December 8, was also part of the meeting.

Officials who attended the meeting last year felt that strong measures need to be taken to ensure that the country moves firmly towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector.

After the meeting, an additional secretary-rank officer of the MoD wrote a note to three services stating that "all stakeholders may take an in-principle call that no import of defence items is going forward".