The indigenous AKASH advanced air defence system is manufactured by private sector L&T 

Expert says the ‘Make in India’ initiative for the defence sector is the need of the hour

Giving a push to “Make in India” projects in the defence sector, the Ministry of Defence has signed 99 contracts worth about Rs 65,471 crore with Indian vendors for procurement of defence equipment for the armed forces under the “Make in India” initiative between 2015 and 2018, the Ministry had told Parliament earlier this year.

Under “Make in India” projects in the defence sector, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has built the medium range surface-to-air missile system “Akash” that can target aircraft up to 30 km away at an altitude of 18,000 metres. It is currently operational with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

The “Dhanush” howitzer artillery gun has also been designed and developed in India under the “Make in India” projects and is currently in operation with the Indian Army. The 155×45 calibre artillery gun has been produced by the Ordnance Factories Board in India and has been designed on the model of the Bofors Haubits FH77.

Not only this, for the first time, India developed an attack submarine, the “INS Kalvari”. It was manufactured at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in Mumbai and designed by DCNS (a French Naval defence and energy company). This is the first of the Scorpene class submarines powered by diesel engine and this submarine is so silent that it might be difficult to detect it underwater. This submarine has missiles and long-range guided torpedoes.

Apart from this, Weapon Locating Radar “Swati” and a High Speed Heavy Weight Ship launched Torpedo “Varunastra” were also built under the “Make in India” projects in the defence sector.

Also, 111 proposals worth Rs 1,78,900 crore have been accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) and “Buy (Indian-IDDM)” or “Buy (Indian)”—which means to buy indigenised defence products.

Under the “Buy (Indian-IDDM)” or “Buy (Indian)”, a minimum of 40% of the products must have indigenous content to be eligible for purchase from the vendor under the most preferred or “Buy (Indian-IDDM)” or “Buy (Indian)” project and the government have revised the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), making the procurement process more efficient and effective.

Major General Sheru Thapliyal (Retd) told The Sunday Guardian that “Make in India” for the defence sector is the need of the hour and such an initiative is necessary for India so that “we reduce our dependency on other countries”.

“We import 70% of our defence products, causing a huge strain on our foreign exchange and, therefore, the ‘Make in India’ initiative is something which we should focus more on. The sooner we make ourselves self-sufficient, the better it is. If ISRO can develop indigenous rockets that reach Mars, why can we not develop our own weapons. We should give far more emphasis to ‘Make in India’ products in the defence sector, as we cannot go shopping for guns when a war breaks out; we should be self-sufficient.” Thapliyal said.