NEW DELHI: As India opens up its defence sector for private sector industries, it is going to witness a massive boom in the domain of defence technology. The defence sector, which was earlier mostly dominated by mega companies and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is currently experiencing a technological boom provided by these start-ups.

In the recently held “Indian Defence and Aerospace Summit 2019” organised by NewsX and The Sunday Guardian (iTV Network), Dr Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, praised the start-ups for their technological innovation in the defence sector. He said: “We have seen more and more start-ups entering the defence sector and what is very heartening to see is the quality of work that has been taken up by these start-ups. While some big international companies are joining with start-ups, even our forces are showing great interest in the work of these start-ups. Several government agencies, the forces and the DRDO are working with these start-ups. It is amazing to see how small start-ups come out with such astonishing technological solutions.” He also added that since the forces are now more willing to try out the Make-in-India technologies, the amazing innovations by start-ups must be integrated into specific platforms as per the needs of the forces. According to Kumar, Indian defence exports have been increasing in the last three years. It went from Rs 1,500 crore, which was three years back, to Rs 10,500 crore in 2018-19 and is expected to cross Rs 15,000 crore in 2019-20.

The Narendra Modi government has been focusing on developing indigenous defence technology for strategic independence and autonomy since it came to power in 2014. The government has also allowed start-ups to bid for contracts valued less than Rs 150 crore without the burden of providing financial credentials. Balbir Singh, retired Lt. Col. of Defence Industry Consultancy Services, said: “Our defence imports are very high. We import nearly 70% equipment for defence and only 30% are produced domestically. As the government wants to reduce imports, it is focusing on indigenisation of our defence products and defence acquisition. Unfortunately, our domestic industry is still unaware about this new avenue despite the government’s efforts.” Start-ups developing indigenous defence technology in India include Tonbo Imaging, CRON Systems, Aadyah Aerospace etc. An official of CRON Systems said: “The forces are open to incorporating new technology and there is no issue whether the technology is being developed by a private company or a public sector enterprise. As long as your technology is good and functional, the army is willing to give you an opportunity.”