A Quick Scan On Defence Production
In the year 2012, in his letter to the then PM, General VK Singh informed about the army's preparedness and its shrinking strength. The army was requesting for over 1800 guns as replacements, but every reputed manufacturer, globally, had been blacklisted. So was the situation of the Navy and the Air Force. Where are we today, in view of the fact that Vice Chief of Army Staff had recently stated that 68 per cent of the equipment is as good as outdated?
As the general elections are not so far, irrespective of who is the winner, it needs to be said that the decks have been cleared and the tracks have been well laid for the next government to take off from where we stand in March 2019. Besides, this becomes our responsibility, to analyse and stand for the right. Let us consider some areas of defence and analyse how far they have been enhanced.
Major Weapon Systems and Platforms:
- Recently, there were a pack-full of defence components being built indigenously by our own organizations like the DRDO and OFB. A few major platforms to include 155 mm Dhanush howitzer based on the old Bofors design by the OFB. The Historic announcement regarding the production of AK-203, with Russian collaboration, at Amethi has been made and should materialise in the not too distant future. This rifle will replace the INSAS, a weapon that has never enjoyed the confidence of the soldier who carries it as his personal weapon.
- HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) has logged a few major success stories which include the operational clearance of LCA Tejas. HAL has already received the go-ahead for producing 123 Tejas for the Indian Air Force which could be a game changer. Thus far, whereas Naval platforms are concerned, maximum progress in indigenisation has been achieved by the Navy.
- This will play a crucial role in the modern battlefield and is a priority area for defence production. Development of more than 25 AI-based products and applications for military use have been initiated so far.
Raksha Gyan Shakti Mission:
- The objective of this mission is to shift the Indian defence production ecosystem from licenced manufacturing to an innovation-based sector. It also serves the need to have greater intellectual property rights in defence products. Since November 2018, when the mission was launched, It was decided to train 10,000 personnel of DPSUs, in batches. A target of filling 1000 new IP by 2018-19 was the objective.
Defence Investor Cell:
- This cell was launched in January 2018 and primarily provides an online interface assisting MSME's. Using this platform, over 350 MSMEs have progressed their issues. Several payments have been processed while in many other cases updated information on projects has been provided.
Defence Industry Corridors:
- Recently this year in February, the Government announced the setting up of two defence industry corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Investments of over Rs 3,700 crore were announced by a combination public and private sector enterprises including the foreign firms in August 2018 for the Uttar Pradesh hub.
Performance of DPSUs and OFB:
- The Arjun Mk-2 tank is ready for induction while licensed production of Russian tanks is being pursued. Parallely, the clothing for the personnel in higher altitude areas was imported previously. But today, more than 80 per cent of such clothing is of Indian origin, and the objective is to achieve 100 per cent indigenisation in the next two years.
Policy and Process:
- This is the area which has to be brought under the main focus. Defence production, in the last five years, has grown 80 per cent to be pegged at Rs 80,000 crore in 2018-19 which was Rs 40,000 crore in the year 2013-14. Indigenisation has been the main thrust since then, with 150 contracts worth Rs 1,27,500 crore having been signed with Indian vendors for defence equipment and many more have been approved for further deals. More private players have jumped onto the bandwagon to profit from the billions of dollars’ worth purchases of the armed forces for their modernisation.
- Foreign investment has been enhanced to 49 per cent through the automatic route. Along with this, defence testing labs and firing ranges have been made available to the industry for testing and certifications which will boost the production of the components.
Let up hope that this progress lasts the same.
Stay tuned with DDE for more defence updates.