Saturday, March 25th, 2023 03:26:06

From dependence to domination : A new India is rising like a phoenix

By Neeraj Mahajan
Updated: February 28, 2023 11:17 am

India today is touching new heights and transcending them too. This new height is the reality of New India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while inaugurating the 14th edition of Asia’s biggest aero show – Aero India 2023 organized at the Yelahanka Air Force Station, in Bengaluru. “The new India of the 21st century will neither miss any opportunity nor will it lack any effort”, he said.“The New India of today thinks fast, thinks far and takes quick decisions”, Modi went on to say comparing India to a fighter pilot who is not afraid but excited to soar to new heights.

“India is always rooted however high it flies howsoever is its speed,” the Prime Minister added.

“Aero India is India’s strength and not just a show”, the Prime Minister said, adding further that the Aero India 2023 reflects the changing approach of New India – which not too long ago used to be the largest Defence exporter but has now started exporting Defence equipment to 75 countries in the world.

“When the country moves forward with new thinking, new approach, then its systems also start changing according to the new thinking”, he said while releasing a commemorative stamp at the five-day event to showcase India’s Defence and aerospace capabilities and display indigenous technologies in accordance with the theme ‘The runway to a billion opportunities’.

According to the PM Aero India is not a show ‘to sell India’ or a window to ‘sell to India’ but an opportunity to showcases the ‘scope of the Defence industry as well as the self-confidence of India” and its growing capabilities. The presence of around 100 nations and more than 800 exhibitors at this event shows the trust that the entire world has in India.

It will yet another opportunity for the Indian government and industry to forge an understanding with foreign companies, and make them participate in the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ for a secure and prosperous India, he said.

Referring to the transformation of the Defence sector in the last 8-9 years, the Prime Minister said that the aim is to take Defence exports from 1.5 billion to 5 billion by 2024-25.

“From here India will take rapid strides to be included among the largest Defence manufacturing countries and our private sector and investors will play a big role in that”, he said. The Prime Minister also called upon the Indian business owners and industrialists to invest in the Defence sector to exploit new opportunities in India and in its neighboring countries.

“Aero India’s deafening roar echoes India’s message of Reform, Perform and Transform”, the Prime Minister remarked.

He mentioned that the entire world is taking note of the reforms made for ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in India and touched upon the various steps taken to create an environment that favors global investments as well as Indian innovation. He touched upon the reforms made in Foreign Direct Investments in Defence and other sectors and the simplification of processes for issuing licenses to industries while also increasing their validity. The Prime Minister said that in this year’s Budget, tax benefits for manufacturing units have been enhanced.

The Prime Minister said where there is demand, expertise as well experience, Industry growth is natural. He assured the gathering that efforts to strengthen the sector will keep going forward even stronger.

Speaking on the occasion Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed the record international participation as the reflection of not just India’s buyer-seller ties with different countries, but also a shared vision of global prosperity.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressing a seminar on ‘Sustenance in MRO and Obsolescence Mitigation: Op capability Enhancers in Aerospace Domain’ organized by the Indian Air Force as part of 14th Aero India, in Bengaluru

Later speaking at a seminar organized by the Indian Air Force as a part of Aero India 2023, the Defence Minister emphasised the need for MRO services and called for joint efforts to develop India as a Maintenance, Repair Overhaul (MRO) hub to enhance the self-confidence and morale of our Defence forces as well as bolster National security.

In a separate seminar organised by DRDO, Rajnath Singh disclosed plans to manufacture indigenous aero-engines to provide a new stimulate the Indian aerospace sector and make it take off towards complete self-reliance.

Rajnath Singh emphasizing on the need to use cutting edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence, drones, stealth, hypersonic and quantum computing, to design and develop indigenous weapon systems. He also exuded confidence in DRDO’s ability to act as a catalysts and replicate recent successes like ‘Prithvi’, ‘Akash’ and ‘Agni’ missiles.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressing a seminar on ‘Indigenous Development of ‘Futuristic Aerospace Technologies’ organized by DRDO as part of Aero India 2023

“DRDO is no longer just a service provider for Defence R&D. It is also a facilitator for in-house industrial R&D, start-ups and private sector labs. There is a need to take advantage of this synergy,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri urged the DRDO to encourage start-ups and new R&D establishments to develop incremental innovations, minor sub-systems and their technologies through schemes like Technology Development Fund and Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX).

“While we are progressing towards becoming one of the strongest countries in the world, we should have strong support of next level Armed Forces capable of facing any new challenge”, the Defence Minister said while advising DRDO to build disruptive, cutting-edge or frontier technologies and set short-term, mid-term and long-term goals to achieve its targets.

According to the Raksha Mantri, “the scientists, engineers and technicians of DRDO are behind-the-scenes heroes who design, develop and manufacture weapons and technologies for the soldiers posted on the borders.

The DRDO is the flag-bearer of vision of the New India and is continuously making headways in Defence and aerospace sector through research and innovation to design and develop equipment ranging from ammunition to guns, radar systems and missiles and strengthen national security in the process, he said commending DRDOs achievements in the Defence R&D sector.

According to the Defence Minister some of DRDOs outstanding recent achievements include the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas as a game changer for the aerospace industry as well as helicopters, and weapon systems like TAPAS, Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C), Medium Range Artillery Gun and radars. According to him a situation has been created where many foreign countries have started importing Defence equipment from India, or would do so in future. This nothing less than a revolution, he said.

According to him DRDO has always been at the forefront in strengthening the security infrastructure be it over land, water, or sky.

HAL Tejas HAL Tejas- an Indian, single engine, delta wing, light multirole fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

“We have also started moving forward to design and manufacture the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft in the form of 5th generation stealth aircraft”, the Defence Minister said.

Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr Samir V Kamat who was also present at the function handed over 12 technologies developed by 10 DRDO laboratories to 18 Indian Industries. These included Multi-Channel Laser Hard kill system, Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESAR) – Uttam, Air Defence Fire Control Radar (ADFCR) – Atulya, NAYAN COMINT System, Unified Mission Computer, Software for outdoor Perimeter System (STOPS), LAND Inertial Navigation System (LAND-INS), Ceramics Radomes Technology, Trawl Assembly for T-72/T-90 Tanks, Weapon Tracking System (WTS), Linear Thermal Detector and CBRN Water Purification System (WPS) Mk II.

The Transfer of Technology (ToT) licenses of these DRDO developed technologies and a healthy laboratory- industry partnership is expected to strengthen the Defence manufacturing eco-system in the near future. So far, DRDO has entered close to 1,500 ToT agreements with Indian Industries. Highlighting the need for Aatmanirbharta in defence production and preparedness the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh –said that the IAF today needs indigenously developed weapon systems and avionics like – Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, Long Range Surface to Air Missiles, Akash Weapon System, LCA Tejas, and the Light Combat Helicopter ‘Prachand’.

Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH- DHRUV)a twin engine, multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter

According to the Defence Minister the IAF would soon be inducting 160 Prachand helicopters to reduce dependence on external sources. “While we should procure the best equipment and systems, our efforts should focus on developing our own equipment and systems to strengthen the Indian Defence sector”, he added.

Highlighting the need for minimum 50% indigenous content in ‘Buy Indian- IDDM’ category to reduce the cost of Defence products and Aatmanirbharta. “The Life Cycle cost of high value Defence equipment, including service and maintenance, should be examined at the time of acquisition for a clear estimate of total expenditure on these products throughout their usable life, and to enable us to get better value for money”, he suggested.

The Defence Minister expressed confidence that the IAF would scale new heights not only in the sphere of security, but also in terms of self-reliance. He also commended the dedication of the IAF and its role as a first responder and relief activities during the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, saying that the efforts reflect India’s contribution to international relations and its duty towards the world.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also launched the Electronic Maintenance Management System (e-MMS) – one of the largest and technologically complex digital Enterprise Asset Management solutions being implemented all over the world.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari who was also present of the occasion underscored the importance of MSMEs and startups and urged the Defence and aerospace industry to assimilate new technologies as well as set up R&D centres and evolve viable business plans to enhance the deterrence, and future requirements of the Armed Forces.

According to him there is a huge potential for overhaul through part testing and outsourcing, and mentioned how IAF has successfully indigenised approximately 65,000 lives of spares.

Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chief of the Army Staff General ManojPande, Senior officials of the Ministry of Defence, DPSUs, DRDO, private industries (including foreign OEMs collaborating with Indian companies), IAF personnel and representatives of various Operational and Maintenance Directorates were also present on the occasion.

Rajnath Singh also met the CEOs of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) on the sidelines of Aero India and made it a point to enumerate India’s significant advantages like competitive land costs, skilled human capital, vibrant start-up ecosystem and huge domestic Defence market for the Global Defence industry. He described this as a win-win situation where Defence manufacturing companies from across the world can become a part of the Indian growth story.

Accentuating the importance of the Defence sector in India Rajnath Singh said, “Defence production meets the twin goals of becoming self-reliant in a critical sector as well as generating jobs for our people.” He specifically made it a point to mention the incentives given by Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu state governments for investment in Defence Industrial Corridors, central government policies promoting FDI and defence manufacturing in India, the strong legal system protecting stakeholders’ interests and improvements in ease of doing business.

“There are opportunities to co-develop, co-produce, integrate and strengthen supply chains, from Joint Ventures, set up manufacturing in India and make for the world,” he said.

CEOs and senior management of General Atomics, Safran, Boeing, Embraer and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems participated in the interaction and gave their suggestions to facilitate Global investment in Indian Defence Manufacturing. Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh assured them of the government’s efforts to remove regulatory hurdles for private industry.

Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane, DG (Acquisition) Pankaj Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Defence Production T. Natarajan and other senior officials of the Ministry of Defence were also present.

By Neeraj Mahajan

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