Pune: Lauding the private sector contribution in defence manufacturing, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan on Tuesday said India has the potential to emerge as a superpower in making military equipment and has displayed wherewithal to develop big and complex platforms. Referring to the inauguration of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.'s new helicopter factory -- India's largest chopper manufacturing unit -- in Tumkur district of Karnataka on Monday, General Chauhan said post- independence, it was the country's dream to become self-reliant in defence manufacturing.

He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Defence Expo 2023, organised by NIBE Defence and Aerospace Ltd in Chakan on Pune city fringes.

"When we imagine a powerful India, our major focus goes towards the Armed Forces and we feel proud about their achievements. According to me, a big defence ecosystem is standing behind the Armed Forces, which is making the country powerful and this defence ecosystem works in tandem with the Armed Forces," General Chauhan said.

The people in this ecosystem do not wear uniforms and do not come under the Army, Navy or Air Force Acts, but they have a strong desire to do something for the nation and they are always inspired by that desire, said the CDS.

"I feel that to make the country more powerful, the silent majority has a big role to play and we should recognise this contribution. Which is why I have come here to give recognition to this silent majority and say that all you people are with us in the process of making the country powerful," General Chauhan said.

Post-independence, it was the country's dream to become self-reliant and independent in the defence sector, and ordnance factories and defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) have played a major role in realising that goal, he said.

Sometime ago, the defence sector was thrown open to private players and emphasis was given to the Make-in-India initiative (aimed at country becoming a manufacturing powerhouse), he said.

"I firmly believe these two attempts of the government will unleash the power of the youth and entrepreneurs of India. NIBE Defence is a fine example of this entrepreneurship," General Chauhan said.

Considering the contribution of the private sector, it can be seen that India can emerge as a superpower in defence manufacturing, he said.

The CDS further said there was a need for a "whole-of-nation approach, instead of the whole-of-government approach", in the field of defence manufacturing.

For that, all stakeholders like Armed Forces, DPSUs, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), private industries, MSMEs and individual innovators have worked together, he said.

"Until now, there was a mindset that India cannot develop big and complex platforms. However yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the HAL helicopter factory in Karnataka's Tumakuru. This will encourage tier-2 and tier-3 industries and generate employment," he said.

Make in India and Indianisation drives will save foreign exchange and in the coming years, the defence export will increase and defence diplomacy, too, will get encouragement, General Chauhan said.

Appealing to defence manufacturers to make quality products, he said, "It is important that in this competitive world, we work together to make globally competitive products."