Make in India -Potential of India as Defence Manufacturing Power

India with consistent focus can easily become a Defence Manufacturing Power: (Part1)
Make-in-India could have pushed the country on the track by now. However, the built-in delaying features of bureaucratic rules along with the status-quo mindsets of the people who matter to make Make-in-India effectively implemented on ground fast enough, didn’t let it happen . Let us see how it is so, at least in case of single engine fighters , combat helicopters, artillery guns, missiles of almost world class level of performance.

1. Light Combat Helicopters: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has inaugurated the production of the indigenously designed, developed and tested twin-engine Light Combat Helicopter (LCH ) of 5,8 ton class. It can meet the Indian defence forces’ requirements. As claimed by CEO, “Each component of our helicopters demonstrates the skill sets of HAL designers, of their capabilities and innovation efforts. Look at the carbon composite blades and the transmission system, composite body structure, glass cockpit and many more…” As reported, HAL will be manufacturing 15 choppers in Limited Series Production mode at its Bengaluru helicopter complex. With an order book of about 200 LCHs , HAL must expedite the new helicopter production facility in Tumkur, and must fast move for scaling up production to 12-20 per month with Serial Production Lines for different types of helicopters for all major applications. HAL’s Rotary Wing R&D facility must be strengthened with equipment and talent to upgrade all its helicopters to be the best in all performance parameters to meet the Indian defense forces’ and export requirements. It must aim to export gradually 30% of the production. Export gives the confidence on competitively better quality and cost .

2. Tejas fighter finally has been accepted to be an excellent single engine fighter but it must achieve a production target of a full squadron or two every year in serial production facilities. As reported HAL may reach a production of just Eight Tejas this year. Since December 2013 after getting operationally cleared to join the Indian Air Force (IAF), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has struggled to establish an assembly line for serial production. It speaks of the poor production management team of HAL assuming no constraints about fund availability. Is it then lack of component supply because it has not gone for outsourcing of components to well established private sector companies that are already supplying to all reputed OEMs such Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed…..or delay in toolings such as main jigs etc. supply to set up the assembly line for line production ? However, both would have been planned in advance. India does not lack talents in manufacturing engineering and management. And HAL must be having its own education centre for its specialised technologies and skills. I don’t know if HAL is having its own separate R&D or entirely dependent on DRDO for new product on different platform and continuous improvement and upgradation of its own products already in manufacturing. HAL fighter units must have an independent R&D and design centre leaving only major technology breakthroughs to DRDO.. Here also HAL must target to be globally competitive on all parameters of performance in its class and cost and must be acceptable to importing countries on regular basis. Indian Air Force personnels and the bureaucrats in defence ministry must help in making all these happen instead creating constraints for silly reasons. (To be continued)…..

DPSUs such as HAL must invest in independent R&D with well manned design, prototype manufacturing and testing facilities. Fund should not be a problem as ” Sitharaman is theoretically responsible for spending the annual defence budget – Rs 3,59,854 crore this year. Of this, the capital allocation for new equipment is Rs 86,488 crore, a ridiculously low proportion that Parliament’s defence committee has slammed as inadequate. Yet, year after year, the defence ministry surrenders large chunks of this allocation (it returned Rs 7,000 crore last year) because the finance ministry, which must endorse large procurements, deliberately delays clearances until the money lapses. Sitharaman must try to remedy this situation.”
India with consistent focus can easily become a Defence Manufacturing Power:Part 2

4. Advance Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) indigenously developed for the Indian Army : DRDO developed the ATGS and got two prototypes of the ATAGS built from two sources – one prototype in partnership with Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) and another with Bharat Forge. The prototype of the Tata Power (SED) gun broke the world record. The 155-millimetre, 52-calibre gun-howitzer fired three shells out to a world-record distance of 47.2 kilometres from the gun position. In comparison, the similar size guns in service worldwide fire this ammunition to maximum ranges of 40-45 kilometres. This was achieved using special, long-range ammunition called “high explosive – base bleed” (HE – BB). It has other significant first global first features too: 1. its all-electric drive, which supersedes the more unreliable hydraulic drives in other towed guns.2.World’s only gun with a six-round “automated magazine” that fires a six-round burst in just 30 seconds.(against three- round). The second prototype for DRDO was from Bharat Forge that was tested but was inferior in performance compared to that ofTata Power. 

However, Bharat Forge aims to become among the top-three artillery gun manufacturers in the world : “Bharat Forge is currently working on five artillery gun platforms.” The company has defence joint ventures with three companies — two from Israel and one with Swedish defence major SAAB. 
Kalyani Group company Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd (KSSL) and L&T are the only two Indian companies currently in contention for the towed artillery gun . L&T won the bid. KSSL has set up a facility that can make 150 guns at Pune. At Jejuri in Maharashtra, a new BF-Elbit facility will be established, At Mundhwa near Pune, Bharat Forge has now a facility for making barrels, breeches and muzzles, making it the only private sector company, and only the second one in the country, apart from Ordnance Factory Board in Kanpur, to have this capability.The machines imported from RUAG, Switzerland, can produce barrels up to 9 m in length, while the rifling and autofrettage machines can make bores ranging from 105-155 mm. The raw material for the barrel — a highly specialised steel alloy — is sourced from the neighbouring facility Kalyani Carpenter Special Steels.

However, L&T that won in May and is executing a $700 million order for 100 self-propelled howitzers artillery guns , unprecedented in size for a local contractor . L&T has so far invested as much as Rs 8,000 crore building nine defence plants across the country. It will partner with South Korea’s Hanwah Techwin Co to make the artillery guns.

PERHAPS, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT FOR DEFENCE MINISTRY AND ARMY TO ORDER TATA POWER, AND BHARAT FORGE A TRIAL BATCH OF 24 And 12 respectively too to keep them improving its guns to world class performance level, as it did order18 Dhanush artillery guns, the indigenously upgraded variant of the Swedish Bofors guns, manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF) for its first regiment. As reported, the Army has placed an initial order for 114 guns. “The first regiment of 18 guns will be inducted in 2017, another 36 guns in 2018 and 60 guns in 2019. However, as per source, “It is a medium gun with a maximum range of 40 km, and has a high angle of attack. So it can be deployed in both deserts and mountains.” With so much of bias, how can private sector , and the best of them participate and invest in Defence sector, the innovation by private sector companies are not given appreciation by Armed force ordering it .
4. Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles

The Indian Army had issued a request for information (RFI) in June 2015 to design and develop a new-generation combat vehicle platform called the Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV). Under the project, 2,610 FICVs are expected to be built. 

L&T ranked No. 1 in pre-qualification tests for futuristic infantry combat vehicles, an $8 billion contract . However, Tata Motors will be equal , if not better candidate for manufacturing FICV.. Tata Motors is also contemplating to export FICV as there are at least 50,000 combat vehicles in the world that are facing huge quantity of it for replacement. …“Tata Motors can bring synergies of leading Tata Group companies such as Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Tata Advanced Materials Ltd, Titan Industries Ltd, Tata Technologies Ltd and TAL as FICV needs to marry 32 critical technologies.. Tata Motors can bring synergies of leading Tata Group companies such as Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Tata Advanced Materials Ltd, Titan Industries Ltd, Tata Technologies Ltd and TAL as FICV needs to marry the 32 critical technologies. The ICV Kestrel that was jointly developed by Tata Motors with DRDO, in a competitive tender process, in a record period of 18 months. The wheeled ICV Kestrel platform was also completed and offered by the DRDO to the mechanized forces of the Indian army, In combat vehicles, apart from the Kestrel and FICV, Tata Motors has also developed a light armoured multi-role vehicle (LAMV), a reconnaissance vehicle, combining vital operational prerequisites of mobility, protection and firepower. (

So L&T or Tata Motors can easily execute the task and would have been given trial orders. 

BMEL that builds Tetra trucks for army, Ashok Leyland or Mahindra can also join the race of manufacturing FICVs for army. Why should India go for strategic partnership for FICV, if its own manufacturers can build this giving opportunity for heavy employment in country with lesser royalty to be paid to foreign collaborators? It’s only the indecision of Army and defence ministry that are holding back the decision because of the reasons known to every Indian-the mindsets of technical superiority of everything imported plus a big plus of some vested interest . 

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