The Defence Ministry is working on a concept of strategic partnership with original equipment manufacturers to give a boost to indigenisation of defence- related production, Union minister Subhash Bhamre said today. He said they want world class manufacturers to come to India and establish their units in association with local partners. “We are working on a concept of strategic partnership with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) which will be a foreign company. We have identified four segments for it, including fighter combat aircraft, tanks, submarines and helicopters,” Bhamre told reporters in Goa.
The Minister of State for Defence was talking about the achievements of the Narenda Modi-led government in three years. India looks at foreign defence manufacturers to transfer their technology, work with Indian scientists, people, train them so that in the next few years “our people will start manufacturing in the same segment,” he said. “This was an idea which has been worked on since last few months. The idea was initiated by then defence minister Manohar Parrikar. In the months to come we will be able to finalise strategic partnerships under this programme,” he said.
On the increasing role of private partners in defence manufacturing, Bhamre recalled how armed forces were dependent on Ordinance Factory Board (OFB) and defence public sector units which were functioning under protective environment. The minister, however, said they lacked in research and development (R&D). “Unfortunately, what we have seen all the years…we accept the contribution by these units (OFB and PSUs), it is not that they have not done anything.
“But what we wanted in last 70 years, R&D to develop in defence sector and then wanted to have a kind of platform so that we can export, but on export scenario there was no significant growth,” he said. “As far as R&D is concerned, it (growth) was not significant because they (units) worked in protected environment. There was no sense of competition. “It (the competition) comes when defence manufacturing doors are open to private industry. That was lacking,” he said.
“Though the doors were opened for private players in 2009 in the defence manufacturing sector, there was no level playing field,” Bhamre said. “That is why between 2009 and 2014 we could not see private industry coming to invest in defence manufacturing,” he said.