The Indian Navy in collaboration with Department of Defence Production organized a seminar on ‘Aatmanirbharta in Aero Armament’ during Aero India 2023 at Bengaluru. The idea behind it was to bring different stakeholders on a common platform to interact with each other, exchange constructive ideas and evolve joint strategy to reduce dependence on imports from foreign countries and achieve self-reliance in Defence.
Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt was the Chief Guest of the seminar and emphasized on complete indigenization of arms and ammunition in the Armed Forces.
The Union Minister of State for Defence specially appreciated the role played by the Armed Forces to work in tandem with DRDO, DPSUs and private industries to many indigenous projects in the Defence sector. This is the concept behind ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ he said.
The minister also thanked the private industry, to support the Defence Ministry’s policy decisions for the progress of the nation and to give shape to a strong and self-reliant India, as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar the contemporary security canvas is characterized by uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity amongst nations leading to a ‘permacrisis.’
A well-equipped, technologically-enabled and efficiently supported modern military is the need of the hour to overcoming these challenges and give shape to the instruments of national power, he said.
He went on to add that the Indian Navy has established a three-tier Naval Innovation and Indigenization Organisation to synchronize and stimulate collaboration with the industry.
According to him the aim of the seminar was to highlight the opportunities and challenges involved and engage the Indian industry to achieve the following three objectives:
- Highlight the scope of work related to various missiles in the Indian Navy inventory
- Emphasize the advantages accrued by the private sector to understand the nuances of sustaining missiles/armaments.
- Interact with various stake-holders both within and outside the country and act as a two way communication bridge between the users, R&D labs, vendors and QA agencies to provide the required indigenously designed and developed missiles for the three services
“Recent efforts in the designing & development of complete indigenous systems by private industries have yielded notable success and boosted confidence of private industry to take-on more projects. It has, thus, become essential for the Armed Forces to ensure maintenance and sustenance of the existing weapons and systems over the next few years of transition when the imported inventory will be phased out and replaced altogether with indigenous weapons”, he said.
It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Defence had issued a policy on Life Extension and refurbishment of missiles for the three services through equal partnership between Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and private industries in August 2022 to foster indigenization and promote a level playing field. It proved to be an important landmark and provided new unexplored opportunities for the Indian home gown private industry to collaborate with DRDO labs, DPSUs and foreign OEMs to meet the critical needs of the Armed Forces and at the same time ensure life extension, refurbishment, and maintenance of the existing foreign origin missiles in the Indian Defence inventory.
At this rate the day is not far when self-reliance in armaments is reality and the focus shifts towards sustenance and upgradation of the indigenously armaments developed by the private industries spread across the Indian sub-continent.
At another level interacting with the participants at the Bandhan ceremony the Union Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh revealed that the government has earmarked nearly 75 per cent (approx. Rs one lakh crore) of the defence capital procurement budget for domestic industry in Financial Year 2023-24 which used to be 68 per cent in 2022-23.
Likewise capital outlay pertaining to modernization and infrastructure development has been increased to Rs 1.63 lakh crore,” he said.
“If you take one step, the government promises to take ten steps forward. You spoke of land to run on the path of development. We are providing you full sky. Three-fourth of the capital procurement budget for the local industry is a step in that direction,” Rajnath Singh said while exuding confidence that the Indian industry will come forward with more enthusiasm and contribute in making the Defence sector more powerful and prosperous.
According to him a strong & self-reliant Defence industry will not only strengthens the national security but also bolsters the economy.
Rajnath Singh went on to highlight the industry-friendly environment being created in the country to provide a runway for the sons of the soil and home grown local companies to grow and ensure holistic development of the nation while catering to the security needs of the friendly countries, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’.
The Bandhan ceremony witnessed the forging of a record number of 266 partnerships including 201 MoUs, 53 major announcements, nine product launches and three Transfers of Technology worth around Rs 80,000 crore.
Some of the major contracts inked at the Bandhan ceremony include agreement to form joint venture collaborations and MoU between:
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran Helicopter Engines, France to design, develop, manufacture and provide life time support for helicopter engines.
- Bharat Electronics Ltd and Aeronautical Development Agency for Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
- Gopalan Aerospace India Pvt. Ltd. and Omnipol, Czech Republic for manufacturing and assembling of 1st passenger aircraft by a private company in India.
- Sagar Defence Engineering Private Limited (SDEPL) & Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for IDEX Challenge “Autonomous Weaponized boat Swarm” for Indian Navy.
- Bharat Dynamics Limited and Bultexpro Ltd., Bulgaria for setting up the manufacturing facilities for 122mm GRAD BM ER and NONER rockets in India
- GRSE and Rolls-Royce Solutions GmbH (MTU) for indigenous content for the Next Generation Fast Attack Craft vessel for Indian Navy.
- License Agreement for Transfer of Technology with R&DEE, DRDO for development and supply of TRAWL Assembly for T-72/T-90 Tanks.
- ToT of Shakti EW System from DLRL DRDO to BEL Hyderabad Unit
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Elta Systems Limited, Israel for Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR) for Indian Platforms.
- Vertically Launch Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile -a ship-based, all-weather, air defence weapon
- SAL Seeker ATGM for BMP II Semi-Active Laser Seeker based Anti-Tank Guided Missile for BMP-II
- Jishnu lightweight and miniaturised a Drone Delivered Missile for soft-skinned targets.
- Software-defined NAVIC/GPS receiver module based on indigenously-developed processors
- Indigenously built ‘Counter Drone Radar’ based on DRDO technology
- 9 mm sub-sonic ammunition
- HF SDR Radio – an advanced software-defined radio.
- Goniometer observation and fire control monitoring system for the Artillery.
According to Rajnath Singh the MoUs and ToTs completed during Bandhan will pave the way for enhanced FDI in defence and take the manufacturing in the sector to greater heights. He defined Bandhan as not just an agreement between two sides limited to economic benefit, but a new resolution to bolster the nation in the defence domain. He also emphasised that the partnerships forged with friendly countries will take their bilateral collaboration with India to the next level.
Later speaking at the ‘Start-Up Manthan’ Rajnath Singh equated startups with new energy, new commitment and new enthusiasm. He said that start-ups are more open to adopting new technology architecture, making them essential to India’s progress.
He applauded the growth of nearly one lakh start-ups and more than 100 unicorns in almost every sector in India and added that this shows the enthusiasm of our youth to invent and innovate. Rajnath Singh also launched the Ninth edition of Defence India Startup Challenges on “Cybersecurity” and the iDEX Investor Hub (iIH) for which more than Rs 200 crores has already been pledged by leading Indian investors.
Rajnath Singh hailed the youth as the designers of India’s future.
According to the defence minister the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative, launched under the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) has enabled talent in the country to come forward. He encouraged the Indian youth to innovate, become job creators and manufacture indigenous Defence products to reduce the dependence on imports.
At this rate, he expressed confidence that India would emerge as a lighthouse for the world in the field of innovation. Complementing the achievements under the initiative Rajnath Singh said iDEX has introduced several innovators to the market, leading to direct and indirect employment generation for our skilled, and semi-skilled workers. He also mentioned that the Ministry of Defence has established a simplified, fast-track procedure for procurement from start-ups and MSMEs as per their employment generation potential. To this end, the government has introduced various grants to encourage innovators and start-ups, he said.
“iDEX has helped the development of several home-grown technologies and has provided an important platform to showcase innovations and technological developments. Start-Ups that have developed because of iDEX are also getting orders, which has fostered the Start-Up ecosystem in the country. iDEX has also given professionals the opportunity to understand futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented reality, and Block-chain, “he said.
It is worth mentioning that DISC 9 is the first collaboration of iDEX with the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (i4C) division of the Ministry of Home Affairs. These challenges have been curated from Services, DPSUs, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, revealing the deep impact and interest iDEX has generated in our Defence industry. The winners of DISC 6, the first three editions of iDEX Prime, and Open Challenge 5 & 6 were also felicitated. Phase 1 winners of challenges under Mission DefSpace were announced and felicitated. Innovators showcased futuristic technology developments in the domains of Autonomous Systems, Advanced Sensors, Space Technology, and Industry 4.0 at a static exhibition of start-ups supported by iDEX-DIO.
According to the defence minister, India could not take advantage of the industrial revolution due to colonialism, which continues to affect several third-world countries. Highlighting the need to change the parameters of competition to enable developing countries to catch up, he emphasised the need to redefine competition for development and move away from reliance on obsolete technologies and systems of production. Innovating in new sectors will enable us to reduce the gap between nations, he said.
Citing the example of UPI payments as an innovation developed by Indian youth and introduced to the world, he said that even developed nations are studying this technology to learn.
He called for introducing similar innovations in existing methods or developing new technologies to usher in the next generation of the Industrial Revolution.
The defence minister also released the Indian Army’s compendium of 110 Problem Statements for indigenous defence research, design, development and manufacturing ecosystem. The Problem Statements highlight Indian Army’s technological challenges and requirements in various domains ranging from Armament, Surveillance & Fire Control Systems to niche domains such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Metaverse, Robotics, Quantum Technology, Cyber, Smartisation of Ammunition etc. Further, they also involve the induction of new technologies, the upgradation of existing systems & indigenisation of critical components. This Compendium would enable focused efforts towards modernising the Indian Army with indigenous solutions, thereby building a stronger Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Industry and Academia will be hand-held by Indian Army through various research and development routes including iDEX, Technology Development Fund (TDF) and Army Technology Board (ATB).
Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane met a number of defence delegations on the sidelines of Aero India 2023. These included the UAE delegation led by Matar Salem Ali Marran Aldhaheri, Defence Secretary, Ministry of Defence, UAE, the Myanmar delegation led by Lt Gen Kan Myint Than, Chief of Defence Industries, the Brazilian delegation led by Maj Brig Rui Chagas Mesquita, Head of Secretariat for Defence Production, Cambodia delegation led by Gen Yun Min, Secretary of State, Ministry of National Defence. The Defence Secretary also held separate bilateral meetings with Katerina Gramatikova, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria on issues related to defence industrial cooperation and a Mauritian delegation led by Kechan Balgobin, Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Mauritius to discuss the ongoing and future Defence cooperation and exchange views on important issues.
-The writer is a seasoned media professional with over three decades of experience in print, electronic, and web media. He is presently Editor of Taazakhabar News