In view of the pace of defence modernisation being undertaken by the adversaries, the country was lagging behind slightly, says the Indian Army chief.
Speaking at an event to commemorate ‘25 years of Army-Industry partnership’, organised by the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), Army Chief Gen Manoj Naravane on Thursday said, “Continued heavy dependence of the on imports needed to be addressed through indigenous capability development.”
However, “one cannot afford to have “operational voids when the enemy is at the gates”, he stated.
Terming 2020 as a unique year and the challenges faced, in his address at a seminar on Army-industry partnership, Gen MM Naravane talked about the `belligerence’ on the northern borders and the way the events of the past year have brought to the fore the vulnerability of global supply chains, underscoring the necessity for self-reliance.
“Niche technologies, including AI, autonomous unmanned systems, 5G, long-range precision technology, quantum computing, swarm drones and all these will certainly need to be acquired & absorbed as part of our deliberate & continuous process.”
Talking about the partnership with the private sector, the army chief said, “For self-reliance and capability building, the defence industry is a big enabler. And it is a prerequisite to take care of our strategic influence and freedom of action. Major defence platforms, including artillery guns, bridges, radars and a wide range of weapons, ammunition & equipment is being provided by the private sector.”
To effectively harness the potential of the industry towards defence Indigenisation, the Army Design Bureau has been reaching out to the industry. And, “The dependence of the armed forces on equipment of foreign origin needs to be addressed in the right earnest through indigenous capability development and towards meeting the modern-day defence requirements.”
He brought out that 75 per cent of Priority-1 Projects in the 13th Army Plan, costing over Rs 1, 50,000 crore are marked for Make in India Programmes. And to enable faster procurement of equipment, the Procurement Procedures can have more flexibility in its operations and interpretations.
He further stated that the capital and revenue procurement routes of procurement have aligned under the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Capability Development and Sustenance). “Combining these routes will result in optimal capability building and will act as a single point of contact with the Industry”, he said.
He encouraged the private industry to take advantage of the government’s reform measures to boost domestic defence production, and reiterated Army’s support to them.
What did Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, DRDO say?
He highlighted how DRDO’s support to the Industry through a number of schemes. And that the DRDO is ready to support MSMEs and the youth who are venturing into the defence production. According to him, the organisation has given funding of Rs 10 crore to around 25 Indian companies in the past year.
“Today, 85-87% of the Akash air defence systems by value are coming from the private industry,” he stated. Similarly, a majority of the components for indigenous radars were also being supplied by the private sector.
There are 1,800 private industries as Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers and more than 10,000 industries at the Tier-3 level who supply to DRDO. Efforts are on to try indigenising spares and components for major platforms through Technology Development Fund. These include all major systems like SU-30MKI fighters, T-90 and T-72 tanks.
Mr Jayant D Patil, President, SIDM
In his opening remarks, he highlighted the Indian Army’s support and its guidance to the industry through its outreach programs which helped the industry understand its requirements and the journey towards ‘Atmanirbharta’ in the defence sector.
At the seminar, an MoU was signed between the Indian Army and the SIDM for strengthening efforts towards Indigenisation.
What is the MoU about?
It calls both the Indian Army and SIDM to work jointly encourage the Indian defence industry including start-ups and MSMEs.
It also aims at enhancing research and academic collaboration for in developing innovative solutions to deal with the defence capability requirements.
The first formal “Army – Industry Partnership” Conference was a two-day event held in 1995.
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