Govt unveils steps for self-reliance in defence sector
From artillery guns to light military transport aircraft and conventional submarines to long-range land attack cruise missiles, India on Sunday announced that it would ban the import of 101 different types of weapons, systems and ammunition over the next five years.Updated: Aug 11, 2020 02:31 IST
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Monday outlined a raft of initiatives and activities planned during the week to give a push to the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (self-reliant India movement) and cut dependence on imported military hardware --- from upgrading the facilities of defence public sector undertakings and modernisation of shipyards to launching locally-made defence items and signing of new memoranda of understanding with the private sector to boost indigenisation.
During a virtual launch of some of the initiatives as part of the Atmanirbhar Week celebrations, Singh said the government has made “timely and thoughtful interventions” during the Covid-19 pandemic including issuing a negative list for imports, raising the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the defence sector and creating a separate budget for domestic capital procurement to promote self-reliance.
From artillery guns to light military transport aircraft and conventional submarines to long-range land attack cruise missiles, India on Sunday announced that it would ban the import of 101 different types of weapons, systems and ammunition over the next five years.
“This list of negative items contains not only small items but weapon systems of high and critical technology. More such items will be added to this list shortly, which will save crores of rupees in imports,” the minister said.
It is an established fact that military balance between adversaries cannot be measured or evaluated on imported systems that reflect the degree to which a country’s security has been outsourced, said former army vice chief Lieutenant General AS Lamba (retd).
“With focus on research and development, new defence technologies and defence manufacturing, the negative import list released on Sunday reflects an aggressive and compelling strategy towards indigenisation,” Lamba said.
Lamba added that India’s leap towards military industrialisation will alter the dynamics of not only the country’s capability , but its export programme as well.
The Pinaka rocket complex at Ordnance Factory Chanda in Maharashtra is upgrading its facilities to meet the army’s enhanced requirement of rockets, and Bharat Electronics Limited has indigenised the Maareech integration facility for manufacturing, integration and testing of the anti-torpedo defence system designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the defence ministry said in a statement.
It added that the Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd has enhanced its capacities to meet the production requirement for the ongoing P-17A project to build warships. Also, a steel preparation shop was inaugurated at the Goa Shipyard on Monday for indigenous construction of glass reinforced plastic (GRP) hulls for minesweeping vessels.
Imports account for 60-65% of the country’s military requirements and India has signed contracts worth billions of dollars during the last decade for weapons and systems including fighter jets, air defence missile systems, submarine hunter planes, attack helicopters, heavy-lift choppers and lightweight howitzers.
India was the third-biggest military spender in the world last year after the United States and China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said in a report released in April.
The ongoing border row with China in eastern Ladakh has lent fresh urgency to develop a robust defence industrial base to boost the military’s capabilities with locally-made weapons and systems. The focus on self-reliance in the defence sector comes at a time when India is making emergency military purchases from several countries including the United States, Russia, Israel and France.
The border conflict has forced India to speed up the purchase of military hardware including fighter jets, smart air-to-ground weapons, missiles, rockets, multi-mission drones, air defence systems, GPS-guided artillery ammunition, tank ammunition and even assault rifles.