INS TALWAR stealth frigate of the Indian Navy

Highlighting the fact that a nation cannot be “truly” self reliant until it is able to develop and manufacture its weapon systems, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Tuesday the Government is promoting ‘Make in India’ projects to develop the Indian defence industry.

Making this point here while addressing the bi-annual Navy Commanders’ Conference, she said the Government is also promoting the medium and small scale enterprises in the ‘Make in India’ venture to gain access to world class technology.

Appreciating the role of the Indian Navy in indigenization, she said its active role in engaging a wide range of research and development and production agencies is indicative of its commitment to self-reliance. 

Towards this endeavour, the Combat Management System for the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier being developed with a private vendor (M/s Tata Power SEO) is a big step towards Strategic partnership between the defence ministry and industry. Programme ‘Samudrika,’ which will result in achieving 100 percent indigenisation of the electronic warfare fit onboard Indian warships is also reflective of Indian Navy’s continued efforts towards indigenisation, she said. The minister also noted that shipbuilding projects worth over Rs 32,000 crore were tendered and progressing towards contract conclusion. Projects worth Rs 760 crore for construction of yard crafts are also being targeted for early conclusion through private and small shipyards, to bolster the ‘Make in India’ initiative and provide the necessary impetus to the Indian shipbuilding industry, Sitharaman said.

On the issue of critical capability shortfalls that the Navy is facing in ship-borne multi-role helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft, unmanned platforms, conventional submarines and surface ships which need urgent redressal to maintain the combat edge, she assured the Commanders that these issues are being given due impetus at the ministry.

Sitharaman said the Navy’s requests for major acquisition projects for 2018-19 will go through smoothly. She said a large part of the Navy’s requests between 2017-18 has been taken to a logical conclusion and many of them are almost on the verge of getting tied up.

The top echelon of the Navy, meanwhile, will review the Navy’s operational preparedness against the backdrop of China’s growing maritime assertiveness in the Indian Ocean region strategically important for India.

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said the commanders will analyse mission-based deployments, maintenance to operational transitional cycle and larger issues of geo-strategic Indian Ocean.

The commanders will also deliberate on improving the teeth-to-tail ratio and explore niche fields such as Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics. Harnessing cutting-edge technologies, specifically those ‘Made in India’ would be a key focus during the conference.