A US Air Force MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

The Defence Ministry said that 18 major platforms including directed energy weapons, naval ship borne Unmanned Aerial System and light weight tanks have been identified for their design and development by private sector.

The move is part of ministry's larger goal of boosting the domestic defence industry.

Apart from the directed energy weapons, naval ship borne Unmanned Aerial System and light weight tanks, the other key platforms to be developed under the initiative are hypersonic glide vehicle, unmanned autonomous AI-based land robot, 127 mm naval gun, electric propulsion (engines) for ships and standoff airborne jammer.

The ministry said 18 major platforms have been identified for industry-led design and development in line with the government's focus on promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing.

According to the defence ministry, 14 platforms are being developed by the private sector under the 'Make-I' category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.

Under the DAP 2020, ‘Make’ Category aims to achieve self-reliance by involving greater participation of Indian industry. The projects involving design and development of equipment, systems, major platforms or upgrades thereof by the industry can be taken up under this category, it said.

For projects under Make-I sub-category, Ministry of Defence will provide financial support up to 70 per cent of total cost of prototype development.

Two platforms are planned to be developed under the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model, the ministry said in a statement.

Under SPV model, private industry will be encouraged to take up design and development of military platforms and equipment in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other organisations.

The platforms identified for development under the SPV model are Long Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH).

A platform called Low Orbit Pseudo Satellites will be developed under the iDEX program which is an initiative to promote start-ups and MSMEs.

The ministry said anti-jamming systems for multiple platforms are being developed under 'Make-II' category.

The projects under 'Make-II' category are funded by the industry with assured procurement by the government.

Out of 18 major platforms, four platforms have been already accorded Approval-In-Principle (AIP) under Make-I category on 3 March, the ministry said.

The four platforms accorded AIP are Communication System (AFNET System Switches, routers, Encryptors & VOIP phones); EO Pod (with subsequent upgrade to EO/IR) with high resolution sensing; Standoff Airborne Jammer; and Light Weight Tanks.

The ministry said that the indigenous development of these projects will help harness the design capabilities of domestic defence industry and position India as a design leader in these technologies.