The top brass of the Indian military establishment responsible for defence equipment procurement were all sanguine about the domestic industry’s capability of delivering goods at the 7th edition of India Defence Conclave organised by BharatShakti on 20th September in New Delhi. Making an assessment of the improving Indian defence industrial capabilities, the Vice Chief of Naval Staff, and Deputy Chiefs of the Army and Air Force were agreed that the domestic defence equipment manufacturing sector has attained maturity and has the ability to cater to the armed forces requirement, largely.
Providing data on the latest defence procurements, Lt Gen Shantanu Dayal, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (DCAS), said that the Indian Army has been pioneering Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) for a long time.
“In terms of giving orders to Indian companies and MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises), last year we signed contracts worth Rs. 45,000 crores, out of which 87% has gone to Indian industries,” he informed the gathering of Indian and foreign defence stakeholders comprising policymakers, Indian military and foreign defence attaches/advisers posted in India.
Elaborating on the need for armed forces, he said we are looking at complex technologies or equipment we traditionally buy from foreign countries, however, during the past two years, there has been a very substantial increase and excellent progress in the development of large and complex systems as the industry has risen to cater for our demands.
“I confirm that we will cross the figure of 95% per cent procurement from the Indian industry this year, and in subsequent years, it will be 100%,” the Deputy Chief assured.
Domestic Defence Industry Attains Maturity
Commenting on domestic sector capabilities, Air Marshal N Tiwari, Deputy Chief of Air Staff (DCAS), citing an example of producing indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) said, “We have matured to the stage that today it’s the ready-made product available and its one of our flagship programmes. Therefore, we are at the cusp of the avionics and air force systems revolution, and we now have the critical mass to build up on it and take it to the next level. Several Indian industries are partners in this progress, and their products are flying on aircraft. So, I think we have reached a stage of maturity”.
Talking about the Indian Navy’s role in indigenisation, the Vice Chief of Naval Staff (VCNS), Vice Admiral Satish Ghormade, said, “our thrust has always been to get indigenised items. We started our indigenisation in 1960 when the first ship, “Ajay”, was commissioned; thereafter, it has progressed towards a builder’s Navy. Therefore, we are spending much of our budget on the Indian industry. Recently commissioned aircraft career “INS Vikrant” has 76% indigenous content besides 43 ships and submarines are under construction at various shipyards in the country, indigenously”.
Is Indian Industry Ready for Achieving Export Goals?
Speaking virtually from Paris, Sanjay Jaju, Additional Secretary, Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that it is the most transformative phase of the Indian defence manufacturing eco-system. The industry is at the forefront which has significantly contributed to exports from a paltry Rs. 1500 crores to Rs. 13,000 crores for export turnover last year. All this shows that given the opportunity, the Indian industry is next to none and can design and develop the required systems.
“An important aspect of this development is that the weapon platform export is going to pick up from India. Our industry has come of age and we will see many unicorns in future,” Jaju said.
Defence Cooperation Through Collaboration
Delivering a special address at the India Defence Conclave 2022 on the theme of “Defence Cooperation Through Collaboration”, the doyen of Indian Defence Industry, Baba Kalyani, CMD Bharat Forge Limited said Make in India products are actively being promoted by the Ministry of Defence. As manufacturers, we are witnessing unprecedented interest in products and weapon platforms being offered by Indian companies and significantly more export opportunities. We will soon have several success stories in addition to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and BrahMos from the private sector.
“I personally believe, we are at a point of inflexion, the crisis in Europe has thrown an open and uncomfortable reality that even the western nations are under-prepared for the extended land-based wars. The emerging new geo-political alignments have also forced every nation to become self-reliant. It only substantiates the Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission (Self-reliant India mission) and the “India First” approach,” observed Shri Kalyani.
Addressing the inaugural session, J D Patil, Senior Executive Vice President for Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Defence Business emphasized the importance and role of the Indian industry.
“Indian industry today has emerged as the sixth arm of defence; essentially these arms are: strategic political arm, the three-armed forces, the space and cyber, and then the sixth arm which essentially provides a special capability to a nation through its military-industrial complex”. He sought to provide defence cooperation through collaboration by stating that the “Indian industry is willing to share and partner and do things together”.
The annual Foreign Defence Attaches conclave, which has been rechristened as Indian Defence Conclave, witnessed a large gathering comprising of senior armed forces personnel, senior government officials, corporate leadership of foreign and domestic defence industry as well as more than 70 foreign defence attaches stationed in India.
BharatShakti.in has been organizing the India Defence Conclave annually, with policymakers, military leadership, professionals, foreign defence attaches, domestic defence equipment manufacturers, and foreign OEMs in attendance. The conceptual premise of the conclave recognizes that in an era of globalization and in an increasingly violent world, peace and stability necessitate nations coming together to fight common threats that transcend national boundaries. The way forward is a collective endeavour to contain emerging threats using synergized hard and soft power.