India prepares roadmap to promote indigenously developed weapons to boost defence exports through diplomatic channels
New Delhi: The government has prepared a roadmap to promote the indigenously developed military platforms and weapons to boost their exports and will use diplomatic channels to promote them in overseas markets, a senior Defence Ministry official said on Monday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier this month had unveiled a major policy decision, announcing the imposition of a phase-wise ban on import of 101 military platforms and weapons systems with an aim to promote the domestic defence industry.
Raj Kumar, secretary, Department of Defence Production, said at a webinar that the domestic defence industry will hold web interactions with the representatives of friendly countries to figure out what kind of products and platforms they require.
"We are preparing country-wise profiles of products, weapons and platforms which are probably needed by our friendly countries. So we are now planning to start web interaction led by the industry," Kumar said.
"That country's defence attache, our DPSUs (defence public sector undertakings), industry, will then figure out what is in the store for us to promote there for exports," he said.
Kumar said the government will be standing side by side with the domestic industry through its defence attaches, embassies and diplomatic channels to promote exports.
To promote indigenous production, the Defence Ministry on August 9 announced restrictions on import of 101 weapons and military platforms including light combat helicopters, conventional submarines and cruise missiles under a staggered timeline till 2024.
Kumar said a second list of import-restricted defence items will also be notified. "This is the first list we are examining and then a second list will also come. We expect you (industry) to come forward and start investing to meet our requirements," he said at the webinar — "Army Make Projects 2020" — organised by FICCI.
The senior official said as successful domestic bidders move to the defence equipment production stage, his department will share their details with the Uttar Pradeh and Tamil Nadu defence corridor authorities, who "will compete in attracting your units to their respective states".
He said since the three services are making efforts to push the "Make II" category of defence production projects, he will interact with project participants to understand their concerns and share best practices among the services.
As secretary of the Department of Defence Production, Kumar heads the collegiate committee that approves the "Make II" category of projects.
Under the Make II category, no government funding is given to the Indian company for the prototype development process. If a prototype developed by the company meets the standards set by the armed forces, an order is placed for such equipment or platforms.
"Everything, whether it is defence industrial corridor, or whether it is defence production and export promotion policy, or whether it is a negative list – everything works in the same direction that we have to be among the top producers of defence items," he said.
Under the Make I category, government funding of 90 per cent of the total project value is provided to the domestic company to develop the prototype of the item. Both – Make I and Make II – are part of the "Make" category.
Lt Gen SK Saini, Vice Chief of the Army Staff, said during the webinar that the army is pursuing "Make" projects in diverse fields of technology including aerial targets, precision ammunition, tank ammunition, auxiliary power units, drone kill systems and mountain radars.
He said nine new projects were introduced in 2019 and four more will be unveiled in 2020 in the "Make" category.
Out of the 28 projects in progress, 13 of them, valued at Rs 21,264 crore, are suo moto proposals received from the Indian defence industry, he noted.
The first RFP (request for proposal) under Make II route has been issued recently on July 13 for Manuverable Expendable Aerial Targets (MEAT), he mentioned. "One more RFP for upgraded assault track way and three project sanction orders (PSOs) valued at Rs 4,919 crore are going to be issued very soon," Saini added.
India is one of the most lucrative markets for global defence giants. The country has figured among the top three global importers of military hardware for the last eight years.
The Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years. On August 9, Defence Minister Singh said the ministry was now ready for a "big push" to indigenous defence manufacturing in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for an "Atmanirbhar Bharat" (Self-Reliant India).
The negative list of 101 items includes towed artillery guns, short range surface to air missiles, cruise missiles, offshore patrol vessels, electronic warfare systems, next generation missile vessels, floating dock, anti-submarine rocket launchers and short range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
The list also includes basic trainer aircraft, lightweight rocket launchers, multi-barrel rocket launchers, missile destroyers, sonar systems for ships, rockets, ASTRA-MK I beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, light machine guns and artillery ammunition (155 mm) and ship-borne medium range guns.