Technology used by armed forces should match with the warfare advancements, says Chief of Army Staff. Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat speaks during the national conference on 'Self Reliance in Defence Manufacturing Second Edition' in Hyderabad, Sunday, Jan 20, 2019

Hyderabad: Indian defence forces to be prepared for the future dimensions of warfare, whether it is defence of borders or combating the proxy wars, terrorism, insurgencies or other internal security disturbances that keep bothering the nation, the nation has to use technology in military systems, weapons and ammunition. It is also important to consider self-reliance in the defence sector, noted General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff.

Speaking at a national conference on ‘Self Reliance in Defence Manufacturing’ organised by the Forum of Integrated National Security (FINS) and Indigenous Defence Entrepreneurs Association (IDEA) in Hyderabad on Sunday, Rawat said, “There is a revolution in the military affairs. This revolution is taking place due to the advancements in technology.”

Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has contributed towards self-reliance in partnership with defence public sector units in the area of R&D along with ordinance factories to come out with some weapon systems. The advancements in technology necessitate that India incorporates the industry into the defence sector.

Technology Disruption

“We have to understand that we have disputed land borders on the northern frontiers and partially on the borders on the western sector. And the neighbour in the western sector has been waging wars for the last 30 years. So we don’t see any peace in the horizon anywhere in the future. And therefore our armed forces have to be ever prepared by imbibing new technologies keeping up pace with the advancements in the warfare. Gone are the days where people are going to fight across the frontiers with guns. A lot of non-combat warfare is happening in the cyber domain, information and legal aspects,” he observed.

It is important to know the relevance of artificial intelligence, big data computing, big data analytics and how to incorporate them into the defence systems.

Indigenous Production

India has long relied on import of weapon systems from abroad. The nation is among the largest armies in the world. The country has the fifth highest defence spending amongst the various armed forces. India has fought wars for decades and yet imports 60 per cent of the defence systems (weapons, equipment and ammunition. Time has come to start looking inwards because whatever the nation has procured so far has come with a huge cost. It has become difficult to benchmark the cost of equipment, weapons and ammunition that the nation has been buying.

Indigenous production will make it easier to benchmark the cost for research and development and manufacturing. This will reduce the imports. India can no longer be import dependent nation.

“We have to revitalise the productivity of defence PSUs by allowing the participation of the private industry. And then give impetus on research and technology. DRDO alone cannot take up the R&D that is required for the defence forces. DPSUs should become competitive as only then advancements will happen. Through better partnerships between the PSUs and industry, better products can be developed. We can outsource technologies from the East,” he added.

Industry Participation

The government has made necessary amendments to the procurement policy so that indigenous production can be encouraged. Make in India initiative is moving fast. Armed forces are keen to work with the industry to integrate technologies.

Rawat said, “Navy and Air Force had taken a lead in incorporating better systems of integrating technologies with industry. Army was lagging behind. But over the years, Army has designed Army Design Board (ADB) which is a single point contact for the industry to understand the needs and processes of Army. We have opened up our systems for industry. The ADB has come out with four volumes of problem statements. Certain innovations initiated by the Army Jawans can be taken up by industry to upgrade or modify them for manufacture in large number.”

The priority for Army remains intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. There is need for better equipment for surveillance which is not possible manually. Drones, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite systems are needed. Data should be integrated to create an efficient battle management system.

The adversary in the northern border is spending a lot on artificial intelligence and surveillance and India cannot lag.

Government of India is creating defence corridors where industry can support armed forces to transform India from an importing nation to an exporting nation. Up-scaling skills in industry with the help of armed forces can be the way forward. Ministry of Defence is keen to remove the bottlenecks in defence R&D and manufacturing for industry, Rawat emphasised.