Make in India: Can New Defence Minister Make It Happen

I sent this mail to rmo.mod.nic.inI request and wish Defence Minister visits key production units such as HAL that manufactures Tejas and Helicopters and key ordnance factories producing guns such Dhanush , Avadi manufacturing Arjuna Tank and Shipyards building Air Carrier and submarines with secretary, related defence chief and DRDO heads of the related products and have meeting emphasing concurrent team management to sort out bottlenecks and to scale up production to respectable world class level in numbers per year, quality with cost reduction and other innovations and express the need to export more and more up to even 30% after supplying domestic requirements. Exports ensure global competitiveness. It should be repeated every six months and must not only be for launch. The meeting must discuss the capacity expansion and investment for debottlenecking.

Indra Roy Sharma, B.Tech(Hons.)IIT, Kharagpur 1961


Through Twitters, I requested Nirmala Sitaraman to call the CEO of HAL , understand what is holding him to produce 24 of Tejas fighters and LCH helicopters per month in next 12 months and assist. They India attain it there will be no Doklam or fire across borders. I also requested her to send all but few technical experts babus to the production units of defence forces Army, Navy, Airforce. Ministry must be very lean to have sufficient productive work.Not much has happened in last three years on Make in India front.


India with consistent focus can easily become a Defence Manufacturing Power
Nirmala Sitaraman’s Make in India : Can Nirmala Speed up Strategic Partnership Policy? Under the SPP, there are four segments — fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines, and Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICV) / armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) and main battle tanks. As per media report, new Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman firmed up a $12-billion project to procure over 2,300 Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles (FICV) for the Indian Army. I would have wished that DPSUs such as the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) would not have been in SPP, as it will be deterrent to enthuse private sector to invest huge amount in these four SPP major sectors. Five Indian private companies are in race for becoming the major Indian partner in the four sectors where a globally reputed manufacturer in the sector will participate in the joint venture: L&T, Tata Motors, Reliance, Mahindra, and Tata Power SED-Titagarh Wagons. Will the foreign partners be agreeable also for providing the product design and technology and help in setting up the manufacturing facilities, and if yes, will it be for a particular well proven platform ? Will the foreign manufacturers use the joint venture including R&D facilities to keep on adding the latest new platforms in the manufacturing as its regional plant to export beside meeting the requirements of Indian defence forces? Can four research and design centres be created for the four sectors assisted by DRDO to be one day the good enough companies to meet the requirements for new platforms with contemporary technologies? 

At least some of the firms over the years can become global products providers. In my view, Tata group that has already started integrating all its defence related units to meet the requirements as per the new chairman. Tata Group can be the Indian partners in at least three sectors- fighters, helicopters, and FICV. L&T will be the best with the submarines, tanks and FICV. Mahindra can also take at least one Sector, may be helicopters.All these companies have components manufacturing and product development facilities and experiences in those areas. All these companies have invested heavily for manufacturing for the defence sector already. Other companies named will have start afresh.

Defence Minister will have to work for few hours every week, to have finally the best PPP partners- both domestic and foreign are decided and the projects start moving. Even with her best intention and hard work, a brand-new platform of a sector will take one-two years to come up with a a detailed project report, following which a prototype has to be developed. All these will require initial investments worth about $25 million. The first platform can with best attention and resources be ready in 5-6 years. Can Nirmala Sitaraman or for that matter, Modi government make it happen? Will the minister show her mettle in overcoming the hurdles of bureaucratic procedures, corporate infighting and failure to appoint an effective and credible implementation group ? They can if they can meet the time target of Bullet Train or building the solar energy capacity.

Indian Navy -Aircrafts Carriers

1.India has just one air carrier, INS Vikramaditya , renamed, rebuilt and refurbished by Russia in operation, which carries just 26 unreliable MiG-29 fighters and 10 helicopters. However, India wants two combat ready aircraft carriers available, on its east and west coasts, at any given time. Whereas many experts feel that it must have 3-4 air carriers in operation all the time and one in building in shipyard or overhauling. Government may explore possibility of export too if we can build world class quality and price.

2. INS Vikrant: The Cabinet Committee on Security approved the construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) in May 1999, but the INS Vikrant, is not expected to be fully ready before 2023 or even later, almost 25 years.

INS Vikrant is the first indigenous Indian aircraft carrier built for the first time by Cochin Shipyard (CSL) for the Indian Navy. The Directorate of Naval Design with full support from Russians have designed it. And the most of materials and components used have been developed and manufactured by PSUs and reputed private companies in India. As reported, ‘Russia’s primary role is in supplying equipment for the construction of the Aviation Facilities Complex.’ As per media report, the building of INS Vikrant is going far behind the schedule and does seem to be ready only by 2019 for launch , perhaps for battle only by 2022-23. A large number of design changes demanded very frequently by navy is cited as the major reason of delay. As reported, ‘Russia is doing all it can to keep up with the Indian Navy’s changing designs.’ Should INS Vikrant, a medium-sized aircraft carrier,40,000 ton that would be expected to carry an air group of up to thirty aircrafts, have taken 25 years to construct ? After all, it takes the US only seven years to authorise, construct and deliver a 100,000 ton carrier with nuclear-propulsion. Bureaucrats , naval officers in operation , manufacturing dockyard, DND and consultants must sit together to think over the ideas to cut down the time to attain Right First Time through latest tools of project management.

3. INS Vishal , the second indigenous aircraft carrier is facing the same fate of INS Vikrant and has not yet got all clearances of defence ministry, as per media report. The navy’s long-term maritime capability perspective plan, which specifies three-five aircraft carriers and a fleet of 24 submarines. India must build them meeting the global standard at all steps as all overrun means increase in cost for the nation. Is there an invisible pressure for import through lobby? One can’t estimate the year of launch or battle ready of INS Vishal under such circumstances with procedural delays of bureaucrats in ministry and responsible naval officers. Shipyard must have much more autonomy and the project team constituting the experts from all stake holders must be in constant touch to quickly sort out the constraints. Unless the design expectations keep on changing due late awakenings, INS Vishal when gets battle ready will be a nuclear powered aircraft carrier of at least 65,000 tonnes, embarking at least 50-55 aircraft and a high-tech electromagnetic catapult to launch aircraft quicker and with greater payloads than the ski-jump that currently equips Indian carriers. Every carrier battle group includes multirole destroyers and frigates, for which India navy can keep on improving its design to remain contemporary with its strong design wing , DND. The dockyards and components vendors (manufacturers) in public and private sector must keep on investing in its contemporary capital goods. It will be absolutely essential that persons concerned with Make in India are technically the best in their fields. DND and production engineering group must be manned with the best available talents in India. And if necessary the government must build such defence specialised institutes drawing inputs of the best talents. Will the new minister change this dismal way of working of ministry and naval officers?


Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) will hand over INS Kalvari to the Indian Navy — the first of six Scorpene submarines being built in India in collaboration with French shipbuilder, Naval Group.The 1,565-tonne Scorpene will be the navy’s smallest submarines, but reputedly its deadliest. Hereafter, the second of the Scorpenes under construction at MDL, Khanderi, is currently undergoing the rigorous phase of sea trials. Next submarines will be built with DRDO-developed Air Independent Propulsion for enhanced underwater endurance, and the capability to carry Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. According to the navy’s 30-year submarine building programme, it is building 24 submarines by 2029.

The Arihant class (Sanskrit, for Slayer of Enemies) is the first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine that has been developed under the US$2.9 billion Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to design and build nuclear-powered submarines.The miniaturized version of the reactor was designed and built by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The detailed engineering design was implemented at Larsen & Toubro’s submarine design center at their Hazira shipbuilding facility. Tata Power SED built the control systems for the submarine.The steam turbines and associated systems integrated with the reactor were supplied by Walchandnagar Industries.Arihant is the first ballistic missile submarine to have been built by a country other than one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. The second nuclear submarine , INS Aridhaman is still a work in progress, sailing perhaps between the ministry and naval head office .

India is capable of manufacturing everything, but Indians are hesitant and lethargic to drop the old easy way of buying everything ‘imported’.


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