SOURCE: TIMES NOW
A critical goal of the Indian government is to achieve self-reliance in production of defence equipment and to fund increased research in defence technology. The strategy is to reduce dependencies on foreign countries so as to enhance national security and also trim the import bill drastically, easing pressure on our balance of payments account. Addressing National Defence College during its Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar sounded confident that India was taking several steps towards this end.
“We are looking at using our vibrant industry towards meeting our R&D requirements in defence…for the first time we have also initiated a process by which the industry can suo motu propose to the forces the kind of systems and platforms they can produce and based on the requirement of the services, procurement can be initiated. DRDO has also come out with a policy last year under which the ToT (Transfer of Technology) developed by it is offered free of cost to industry. Similarly, it has also been decided that the access to DRDO patents will be available to any industry which needs them.”
a Gyan Shakti programmes, defence PSUs and OFB (Ordnance Factory Board) took up the challenge and generated over thousands of patents in two years. They have also taken up programmes and are developing products which use new technologies like artificial intelligence, unmanned systems etc., in alliance with academia, startups and other partners. As part of this plan, these PSUs have taken up the mandate to indigenize over 5,000 components which are currently being imported for various platforms.”
Under the new defence acquisition procedure, special focus has been given for using capabilities of domestic software industry and efforts are being made to use materials made and certified in India and used for platforms developed in India.
“We are today in fast forward mode in terms of developing 5G technology within the country with the help of such process of acquisition. Another reform that has been carried out has been the offset requirement now allows acquiring technology as a part of meeting the offset obligation. In addition to developing the capabilities in the industry, focus is also being put to further energise and innovate the defence technology ecosystem DRDO, which has been providing yeoman service for last several decades. In certain areas, DRDO has been given the responsibility to make sure that all requirements in terms of missiles should be met. Moving forward from LCA, we are going to 5th generation AMCA in communication radars and sonars.”
As an added sign of determination, India has also announced a list of 101 items which the country would be able to design and produce indigenously. “Today HAL has special design capabilities in term of helicopters, and it is moving towards from the LCH (Light Combat Helicopters) to 3-ton helicopters and in the next 4 to 5 years they are developing a multirole helicopter of 12-ton variety.”
Basic Trainer Aircraft has also been designed and developed by HAL inhouse and now it’s getting into production stage. HAL is further improving on its Garnier Aircraft, which was now been converted into its civil version also. We have dependence of aeroengines, and to fulfil this gap a Special Purpose Vehicle involving stakeholders from DRDO, GTRE has been working on this.
Defence excellence platform IDEX, which was launched by Prime Minister in April 2018, has also received a tremendous response. Thousands of startups are creating defence technologies based on problems that have been thrown up by the services. The work of the startups has been remarkable and has been drawing global attention and ties up with companies in France, US etc., have been forged.
“Startup ecosystem whether it is in terms of UAVs or in terms of artificial intelligence or in terms of overall domain awareness and analytics, these technologies would be connected into the defence ecosystem, as I mentioned earlier,” Ajay Kumar said.
“Lastly, let me mention that we are also working to see greater involvement in term of creating chairs of excellence, development of system and setting up of an Indian Defence University and creating participation of younger generation, among scientific community in form of DRDO labs of scientists, all below 35 years of age,” the Defence Secretary concluded.