New policy to streamline Army’s interaction with local and foreign vendors while placing technology & equipment demands

NEW DELHI: The Army is giving finishing touches to a policy that will allow sharing of some of its main equipment with the private sector for upgradation, creation of new variants, sub-components and for R&D, top defence ministry officials on Thursday said.

This is a major move towards indigenisation and reducing dependence on imports as currently gaining access to military equipment takes a long time and has been delaying work under the Make-in-India initiative.

The new policy will also formalise the Army’s interaction with local and foreign vendors of equipment and technology. Currently, the lack of guidelines results in different departments holding separate interactions with the same group, creating multiple contact points.

Officials privy to the policy explained, “access to military equipment is a prerequisite for the private industry and academia to assist in innovating designs, integrating sub-systems, developing new variants, improving R&D efforts and thereafter test these variants before offering them to the Army.”

Currently, the Army vice-chief (Lt Gen Sarath Chand) grants approvals on a case to case basis. “This takes time,” said officials.

Keeping all this in mind, the Army believed it to be necessary to create a formal procedure of handing over or providing access to “inservice equipment” or equipment being used by the army to the private industry and academia.

The policy is laid out in four parts. The first will detail the cases where in-service equipment can be handed over. These will be linked to the Army’s needs, such as ongoing procurement cases, new cases, upgrades, import substitution, response to the Army’s problem areas and Technology Development Fund (TDF) cases.

The second part will deal with selecting the Indian companies and academia and vetting by the Director General of Military Intelligence.

The last two parts will deal with the vice chief being the approving authority for providing access to in-service equipment, the logistical requirements, testing and handing over equipment for close to one and a half years.