Defence Matters-1


Four years ago on 15 August, Modi made the clarion call for “Make in India”, “come make in India, we have steel…we have discipline, we have resolve.. sell anywhere, (but) make in India”, “satellites to submarines”, implying immense potential in defence and aerospace.Defence had been opened to the private sector in 2001.But the complex processes made it unattractive for the private entrepreneurs.The “Make in India” initiative and Modi’s interest boosted the expectation for positive fast activities.Foreign direct investment (FDI) norms were relaxed from 26% to 49% and up to 100% for state of art technology. The strategic partnership policy came in 2017 with lot of hope. Pretty surpringly, the first women defence minister came out with a new Defence Production Target: turnover of ₹ 1.7 trillion in defence sector by 2025, an additional investment of ₹ 70,000 crore, creating two-three million jobs and the defence export target set at ₹ 35,000 crore.Recently, the creation of two defence industrial corridors-Tamilnadu and UP and the Innovation for Defence Excellence (IDEX) were launched. But nothing significant has happened in real sense during last five years. Will it make any difference unless the mindset of the decision-makers changes and they persuade their experts to work with the private, DPSUs, Ordnance factories, and DRDO’s labs with hand in hand cohesively during the development and execution of various indigenisation projects? During the last decade, India designed, developed and built at least globally competitive four major categories of fighting machines- Arjuna Tank, LAC Tejas fighters, LCH and Rudra Helicopters and Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS) that can easily be produced in big numbers and with its high performance can become the mainstay of our Army and Airforce reducing huge lot of import that is at present about 60-70%. Unfortunately, because of the complex decision making processes, we foresee little chance of its whole hearted acceptance by the two defence forces. Even the PM and defence minister, as it is the practice, can’t help.India will have to keep on importing unless the Army and Airforce change their mindset on its own.–India-needs-independence-from-defence-imports.html


Local Artillery Guns Finally Approved by Army: The DAC approved the manufacture of 150 indigenously designed and developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems (ATAGS) at an approximate cost of Rs 33.65 billion.These guns, which the ministry terms “the mainstay of artillery in the near future” are being procured under the “Make – Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured (IDDM)” category. The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has overseen their development and two private firms will build the guns in parallel — the Kalyani Group and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division). The plan is to eventually induct about 1,500 ATAGS. The current order is a preliminary batch that will be used to continue gun development.Details of these guns and ground test. At least among the major items, the artillery guns are now locally manufactured by two private companies. Before this contract, Dhanush has already got acceptance of army few months ago. The government must encourage and assist to export these guns to other friendly countries, as in performance there are the best in the world.


Helicopter Manufacturing-An Attempt for private sector: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on August 25 approved the Rs 21,738 crore (Rs 217 billion) purchase of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH). It will be built by a competitively chosen Indian private sector company. “This is the first project under the MoD’s prestigious Strategic Partnership (SP) model, which aims at providing a significant fillip to the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme. The SP Model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian SP, who will collaborate with foreign OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), acquire niche technologies and set up production facilities in the country.” The defence ministry had already promulgated the “implementation guidelines” for choosing an SP in the helicopter category, clearing the way for this procurement.Now the navy is to zero on the suitable foreign OEM as well as the Indian partner that will get into the tie up for building these 111 utility helicopters for the navy. Which private company in India will be the most eligible for this strategic partnership? At least two private companies-TASL and Dynamatic in India are significant players in the manufacture of major helicopter components such as frame for export. TASL has a major facility in Hyderabad manufacturing Apache frame.Dynamatic Technologies Limited has becomes Airbus’s Tier I supplier and caters to orders from Boeing and Bell helicopters.

The selected private company through SP must grow as a major helicopter manufacturing company to meet India’s future requirements of all types of helicopters and establish full-fledged industrial and R&D facilities, capable of meeting the future defence requirements.But what will be the time frame of this helicopter project? Will it be a 4-5 years execution programme or one taking 10-15 years?

I wonder why HAL is not allowed to develop and produce these helicopters on its own or as strategic partner. Why can’t its Dhruva or Rudra be made to meet the specifications required by navy utility helicopters?


Ashok Leyland has bagged a tender in the defence tracked vehicle space, marking its foray into the niche segment. As per the scope of work, the company will collaborate with Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), Chennai, for manufacture, assembly and testing of light weight clutch for the design and development of weight optimised 1500 hp automatic transmission for main battle tanks.”

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