Mumbai: A week after it obtained a path-breaking export order for its defence product Bharat Forge Chairman and Managing Director Baba Kalyani has given credit for this achievement to the Defence Expo held in Ahmedabad in October 2022.
In an interview to a media, Kalyani said his deal with a west Asian country is one of the results the Defence Expo has delivered. Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited, a subsidiary of Bharat Forge, had announced on November 9 that they have obtained a contract to supply its product, a 155 mm artillery gun platform to a country. The export order worth $155.5 million will be executed over a three year period. A release issued by Bharat Forge said that the export was to a “non-conflict zone”.
“A country in West Asia has selected us to supply them,” Kalyani said declining to give details of the defence contract ” because all defence contracts have a secrecy clause. All I can say is that it is a complete platform. It’s a 155 mm gun mounted on a truck, like we are building for Indian Army. This is a similar vehicle but in a smaller size,” he said.
Though Kalyani has not named the country, it is widely speculated that Armenia, a land- locked country with volatile neighbours like Turkey and Georgia, has finalised a contract with Bharat Forge for the defence product. The order is significant as it will be Armenia’s first non-Soviet origin, 155 mm artillery gun capable of firing NATO-standard shells. A gun normally has 5,000 components.
Kalyani acknowledged that it is the first time that a private Indian company in defence sector has bagged a large export contract. “The product is fully designed by us and manufactured by us. So it is a credit to our engineers, our technicians. What they have been able to do,” Kalyani said.
“For the first time we had a Defence Expo that was meant for only Indian companies, to showcase products that they made themselves. So, in this Defence Expo, a huge number of foreign delegates came and visited us. They saw our products and they were tremendously interested in doing this. So this (the export order) is one of the results of all this,” he said.
Kalyani said defence products like the gun mounted truck are not just metal. “It has tremendous amount of electronics, electronics control, digital system and an artificial intelligence system. So when you are looking at defence products you learn to master those technologies also,” he said.
Kalyani predicted that India’s Rs 35,000 crore defence export target would be achieved by 2025. “Our aim is to become one of the largest artillery houses in the world. We will develop technology to a very high level. We are hoping that by 2030 we will be recognised as the best artillery houses in the world developing multiple types of artillery platforms, small, big, mounted on trucks and light-weight, which can be para-dropped in the mountains. So we will do many, many kinds of different things.”
Kalyani said creating defence products would help India get a global top spot. “I see this is a renaissance of technology happening in India. All the things that we missed in last 20, 30, 40 years, like we missed the electronics revolution, it is all coming back. We are going into the electronic revolution through creating defence products,” Kalyani said.