In the last few years, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has had numerous “Make in India” success stories in the defence sector. In an exclusive interaction JD Patil, Senior Executive Vice President (Defence Business), Whole Time Director & Member of the Board, L&T talks to Financial Express Online. Following are excerpts:
Any success stories as part of Make in India Initiative?
K9 Vajra-T, Pinaka & BM 21 Upgrade for the Army Artillery, Akash for Army & Air Force, BrahMos, Range of Bridging Systems for Army Engineers, Platform specific Engineering systems for Naval Platform, Floating Dock for the Navy (FDN-2) and Offshore Patrol Vessels & Interceptor Boats for the Coast Guard to name significant ones in public domain.
K9 Vajra-T has the distinction of being the largest Defence contract placed on a private sector company for delivery of 100 howitzers in a span of three & a half years. In order to meet this stringent delivery schedule, a dedicated Armoured systems facility including a world-class Test Track at L&T’s Hazira Complex was created. This modern ‘Industry 4.0 ready’ factory is the company’s 6th dedicated and 9th Defence production unit and has already started rolling out the K9 Howitzers with 12 systems already delivered to the Army, ahead of schedule. K9-Vajra being delivered currently have reached 75 percent plus indigenous content by work packages.
Pinaka system is the first major indigenously designed & developed Multi Barrel Artillery Rocket Weapon system to be inducted by the Indian Army. Given the indigenous design and development, the program has 90 percent value content produced in India. Our company has been a development & production partner for this program. Deliveries of orders at hand and ordering for further regiments of Pinaka is in the pipeline and expected to be concluded very shortly.
In the Akash program, we deliver launchers, radar masts for 3-D surveillance radars and Integrated Propulsion Airframes for the missiles with above 90 percent indigenous content & value addition. And in production of integrated propulsion airframes the company has attained global benchmarks in deliveries and production scale up.
BrahMos Missiles: We are a partner to BrahMos for the past nearly two decades and produce Launchers and Fire Control systems and integration on Naval Platforms as also produce Missile Subsystems and related hardware with 90 percent indigenous content. We play a dominant role in equipping the Army with Range of Bridging equipment and Systems from 5m to 75m spans. These are produced with 95 percent indigenous content.
Having committed to ‘Make in India’ & “Design in India” in letter and spirit, L&T has designed and engineered, in-house, all the 50 platforms delivered till date to Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy. And have attained the distinction of delivering all the Shipbuilding programs awarded by MoD ahead of schedule including the first of class FDN as well as CG-OPVs.
Is the company working on projects with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)?
We have proactively taken up development of unmanned systems for all the four domains of warfare by building solutions for UGVs in partnership with DRDO, AUV, and USVs as well as UAVs in-house. We also partnered DRDO Laboratories in development of Chemical Agent Monitors that attained global benchmark performance, as well as O-Box besides a range of Avionics LRUs for indigenous LCA (Tejas) and ALH platforms.
With several mega defence programs like P75 (I), LPD, New Generation Warships (Frigates, Destroyers, Corvettes, Missile vessels, OPVs etc.), Air Defence Programs (Akash, MRSAM, CIWS) in the Ordering pipeline.
Leveraging our in-house R&D capability we have built a range of Naval Missile Launch Systems, Rocket Launch Systems, Torpedo Launch systems for Warships and Weapon Complexes for Submarines and Underwater platforms, most of them integrated with homegrown Fire Control Systems.
Any other guns for the Indian Army?
Currently, we are working on an Air Defence – CIWS program and are midst of realizing major building blocks/subsystems for integrating the system for user trial. We have successfully developed and qualified in the Towed gun program with Nexter Systems as our partner, and also had participated in upgrade programs like L-70 and Zu-23 and T-72 EOFCS earlier and realized these solutions indigenously. And will leverage the learning and experience gained from these programs in the upcoming Mounted Gun System program.
What is the current status of the long-pending Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV)?
FICV is a uniquely defined platform for Indian Army’s future needs with a combination of Amphibious & Desert operations capability with contemporary mobility, surveillance & protection solutions as well as weapon suite with smart ammunition to address the evolving environment. FICV was announced as the first `Make’ program in 2010 under DPP 2008 after nearly four years of stakeholder dialogues and consultations including with Industry majors.
Through the first Expression of Interest (EoI) of Oct 2010 to second EoI of June 2015, and realising that the program has been put on the cold store in 2018, we continued to develop building blocks for indigenous FICV with futuristic digital technologies.
We have not received any formal communication on the program since Oct 2016 and neither for re-categorization of FICV program under Make II. Having been closely involved as Apex chamber representatives in the consultative process during the formulation of `Make II’, we all in the Industry is aware that the `Make II’ procedure is primarily a means of Import substitution through the development of Minor Platforms, sub-systems, spares and equipment in a short development period by leveraging the readily available mature technologies to cut the country’s import dependence.
On the contrary, FICV is a Major platform involving Critical Technologies including those demanded by the User requiring a long development cycle and/or significant investments to acquire these from Foreign Technology Partners. Hence FICV is most suited as a Make-I program as envisaged while issuing the EoI in 2010 as well as 2015 to facilitate long term Indigenization through basic design and core technology development within the country with Govt. support and funding in the 80:20 ratio.
Any project for the Indian Air Force (IAF)?
L&T has been an Industry partner for development and production of Composite and Metallic subsystems for Akash, BrahMos, ASTRA, Nirbhay Missile systems. The company also integrates the entire wing sets for LCA and has developed and supplies a range of Avionics LRUs for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program as also various LRUs for Indigenous Helicopter by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Apart from these, L&T has also been contributing to the IAF by supplying various Ground Systems such as Platforms for Radar systems, SatCom equipment for C4I and multiple weapon systems.