The Indian defence ecosystem is spreading its arms overseas as military exports have jumped by 334% in the last five years, which involves supplies of arsenals to more than 75 countries around the globe.

With collaborative efforts, India has taken several policy initiatives in the past few years to amplify its indigenous design, development, and manufacture of defence equipment, to make world-class military apparatus.

“The Indian Defence sector, the second largest armed force, is at the cusp of revolution. Defence exports grew by 334 per cent in the last five years; India now exporting to over 75 countries due to collaborative efforts,” Press Information Bureau (PIB) mentioned in a tweet.

Notably, India exported around Rs 1,387 crore worth of defence-related exports during the first quarter of the financial year 2022-23 (April-June), data showed. Further, the country’s defence and technology related exports touched the highest-ever figure of Rs 12,815 crore in the financial year 2021-22, a 54.1 per cent rise over the previous year.

It is pertinent to note that the exports in the financial year 2022 were almost eight times what they were about five years back. According to the reports, India’s defence exports were worth Rs 8,434 crore in 2020-21, Rs 9,115 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 2,059 crore in 2015-16. India’s defence exports are mainly to countries like the US, the Philippines and other countries in South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Boosting Indigenous Manufacturing

In the past few years, the Government of India has taken various policy initiatives to encourage indigenous manufacturing of defence equipment, thereby promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing & technology.

The slew of initiatives include priority to the procurement of capital items from domestic sources under Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020, the announcement of 18 major defence platforms for industry-led design and development, liberalization of foreign direct investment (FDI) policy allowing 74 per cent investment under the automatic route, among several others.

To minimize import by Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), the Department of Defence Production (DDP) has notified three Positive Indigenisation Lists (PIL) of sub-systems/assemblies/sub-assemblies/ components. The first list contains 2,851 items out of which 2,500 items have already been indigenized.

The second list consists of 107 strategic important Line Replacement Units/major sub-assemblies. The third list includes 101 military equipment which will come into effect from December 2022. Strategic defence products including Light Tanks, Helicopters, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are the part of indigenous list for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timelines indicated against them.

Importantly, two defence industrial corridors have been established — one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to bolster indigenous manufacturing.

India Eyes Rs 35,000 Crore Exports By 2025

The Defence Ministry has set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore of defence production by 2025, which will include export of Rs 35,000 crore. The major role in achieving this goal with a contribution of 70-80 percent would be done by India’s Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said earlier this year.

Listing out various initiatives taken by Defence Ministry to achieve self-reliance, Rajnath Singh mentioned that simplification of acquisition process under Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020; flexibility in Offset guidelines; increase in FDI limit to 74% under Automatic Route and up to 100% under government route; simplification of process of obtaining license; launch of Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative and enhanced use of Artificial Intelligence in the defence sector have bolstered the goal to achieve self-reliance.