Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the government would spend 75 per cent of the total defence capital outlay on procurement from the domestic defence industry from 2023-24, up from 68 per cent in the last financial year. The decision is significant as the government has set aside around Rs 100,000 crore for procuring military platforms and equipment from Indian manufacturers. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has allocated a total Budget of Rs 5.94 lakh crore, which is 13.18 per cent of the General Budget (Rs 45.03 lakh crore). According to an official statement, capital outlay pertaining to modernisation and infrastructure development has increased to Rs 1.63 lakh crore.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed the decision as an unprecedented step taken by the government at the outset of ‘Amrit Kaal’ to strengthen the defence sector further and minimise import dependency. “Earmarking three-fourths of the capital procurement budget for the local industry is a step in that direction,” he said.
Singh has also announced several agreements, and technology transfer agreements (ToT) were firmed up among a large number of defence companies which participated in Aero India 2023 during the Bandhan ceremony held on the sidelines of the mega-event in Bengaluru on 15 February. The Bandhan ceremony witnessed the forging of 266 partnerships, including 201 MoUs, 53 major announcements, nine product launches and three Transfers of Technology, worth around Rs 80,000 crore.
He also said that Aero India 2023 has shown that the Indian defence sector is ready to march ahead along with top global defence companies. He said that the agreements signed during Aero India would facilitate a new beginning for defence manufacturing in India. He said a new chapter in India’s aerospace sector has begun today, referring to the agreements.
- MoU between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Safran Helicopter Engines, France, for Work Share for the formation of a Joint venture for the Design, Development, Manufacture and lifetime support of Helicopter Engines.
- MoU between Bharat Electronics Ltd and Aeronautical Development Agency on IWBC and Other LRUs for Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
- Co-operation between BSS Material Limited and Pegasus Engineering, an ADUSEA Inc. Division (USA) for Logistic Drones for the Indian Army towards Last Mile Delivery for forward troops deployed along the border areas with the capability of operation in wind/gust conditions, rain/Snow etc.
- MoU between Gopalan Aerospace India Pvt. Ltd. and Omnipol, Czech Republic, for manufacturing and assembling 1st passenger aircraft (L 410 UVP-E20 version) by a private company in India.
- MoU on the collaboration of Sagar Defence Engineering Private Limited (SDEPL) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the IDEX Challenge “Autonomous Weaponized boat Swarm” for the Indian Navy.
- MoU between Bharat Dynamics Limited and Bultexpro Ltd., Bulgaria, for setting up the manufacturing facilities for 122mm GRAD BM ER and NONER rockets in India and fulfilling the requirements (including ToT).
- MoU between GRSE and Rolls-Royce Solutions GmbH (MTU) for License production with localisation of the MTU 16V4000M73L engine to support the indigenous content for the Next Generation Fast Attack Craft vessel for Indian Navy.
- BEML enters into License Agreement for the Transfer of Technology (ToT) with R&DEE and DRDO for developing and supplying TRAWL Assembly for T-72/T-90 Tanks.
- ToT of Shakti EW System from DLRL DRDO to BEL Hyderabad Unit for all system units, Bill of Material, Test procedures, integration and offering methodology.
- MoU between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Elta Systems Limited, Israel, for cooperation on future Business in Maritime Patrol Radar (MPR) for Indian Platforms.
- Vertically Launch Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile (Bharat Dynamics Limited): VLSRSAM is a next-generation, ship-based, all-weather, air defence weapon which the Navy can use as a quick reaction point defence against supersonic sea-skimming targets like aircraft and UAVs. The Missile has a smokeless propulsion system with all-weather capability. It has a highly agile configuration with state-of-the-art Electronic Counter-Counter Measures features.
- SAL Seeker ATGM for BMP II (Bharat Dynamics Limited): Semi-Active Laser Seeker based Anti-Tank Guided Missile for BMP-II is a subsonic missile with a range of 4,000 metres and flight time of 25 seconds. The missile weighs 23 kg with the launch tube and can be used in different kinds of terrains to incapacitate moving and stationary targets such as tanks and Infantry Combat Vehicles.
- Jishnu (Bharat Dynamics Limited): Jishnu, a Drone Delivered Missile, is a lightweight and miniaturised missile targeted at soft-skinned targets. It has a range of 1.5 km with a flight time of 9 seconds. The missile can be semi-automatic or completely autonomous based on the system’s configurations.
- Software-defined NAVIC/GPS receiver module based on indigenously developed processors (Astra Microwave Products Limited).
- Indigenously built ‘Counter Drone Radar’ based on technology from DRDO (Astra Microwave Products Limited).
- 9 mm sub-sonic ammunition (Munitions India Limited).
- BFT on Ios (ideaForge Technology Limited): BlueFire Touch, Ground Control Station (GCS) software, is built to plan and command both mapping and surveillance missions with the ability to pre-plan missions based on operational area and target locations via waypoint-based navigation.
- HF SDR Radio (Bharat Electronics Limited) is an advanced software-defined radio. The radio is lightweight 20 W transmit-capable radio. It provides a complete solution to the short-range communication requirements in the crowded HF band and long-range communications beyond the line of sight.
- Goniometer (Bharat Electronics Limited): It is part of an integrated observation and fire control monitoring system for daytime or nighttime use by the Artillery.
Rajnath Singh stated that the MoUs and ToTs completed during Bandhan would pave the way for enhanced defence FDI and take the sector’s manufacturing 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.
Defence Minister stated that Aero India showcased to the world the ‘New Defence Sector’ of ‘New India’, which has not only grown in the last few years but is now fully ready to walk alongside the defence sectors of leading countries. He expressed satisfaction that the event paved the new way to strengthen the Indian defence industry, terming it as the beginning of a new era of ‘Aatmanirbharta’.