The world’s largest importer of weapons is taking baby steps towards positioning itself as an exporter of military hardware.
State-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has chalked out a plan to export anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and Akash surface-to-air missiles.
BDL managing director V Udaya Bhaskar told Hindustan Times that the defence public sector undertaking was in preliminary discussions with countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Myanmar to tap the export potential of the weapon systems.
“We are exploring opportunities to export Konkur and Milan ATGMs as well as Akash surface-to-air missiles. The ATGMs are built under license from Russian and French firms, and they will give us country-specific export clearance,” Bhaskar said. BDL has already inked a deal with Myanmar for supplying light-weight torpedoes.
India has identified 15 weapon systems for exports including Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, Prahar surface-to-surface missile, light combat aircraft (LCA), BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, sonars, Arjun Mk-2 tanks, airborne early warning and control systems, a variety of unmanned systems and battlefield radars.
India has set a target of exporting weapons and systems worth $2 billion by 2019, six times the size of India’s current exports. The government has allowed defence PSUs to earmark 10% of their production for exports to help India increase its defence exports. PSUs could earlier export only after meeting the demands of the Indian armed forces.
Bhaskar said the orders were unlikely to be very big but it would help India get a foothold in the global market.
Last week at Aero India-2017, BDL signed a memorandum of understanding with French firm Thales to assess the opportunity for the transfer of technology of the laser-guided STARStreak missile to India.
“Through this MoU, Thales and BDL seek to jointly offer a “Make in India” solution to help service growing international demand for this product,” said a Thales release. The missile, with three laser-guided darts, cannot be jammed by any known counter measure and can down even armoured helicopters.
The Make in India plan seeks to cut the country’s dependence on imported weapons and position the country as a hub of defence manufacturing.