Atmanirbhar Bharat in Defence: 108 more items to be Made in India for the armed forces

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June 01, 2021 12:24 PM

The defence minister Rajnath Singh approved a ban on the import of 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars.ms.

Atmanirbhar Bharat in DefenceThe government and the armed forces have placed their confidence in the Industry to deliver cutting-edge Defence Technology for India’s security requirements, the President of SIDM has said.

108 military weapons and systems including next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars are to be made in India. Building on the first positive list released in August 2020 notifying 101 items whose import was to be banned between December 2020 and 2025, on Monday, (May 31, 2021) the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued the second list with 108 items. The second list -like the previous one- lays special emphasis on various types of ammunition.

The defence minister Rajnath Singh approved a ban on the import of 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars. In an official statement issued by the MoD, he has said that “the ministry is now ready to take forward the initiative of self-reliant India.”

The second list covers a wide range of complex military systems that include sensors, simulators, sonars, radars, assorted weapons, helicopters, next generation corvettes, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems, tank engines, medium power radars for mountains, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems (MRSAM), and much else.

On the list are the light medium and heavy combat armoured vehicles which are meant for the infantry, mission systems for AEW&C, single engine land variant helicopters weighing less than 3.5 T, also helicopter launched anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) for up to 7 km, among others.

Most of the items mentioned in the list are already being manufactured in India, and several others have not been imported for years now—like the single engine helicopters, or corvettes for the Indian Navy and many other items.

While the list is exhaustive, industry sources, while welcoming the initiative, acknowledged that the majority of the things on the list are already manufactured within the country and lots of systems have not been imported in years, including the single-engine light helicopter and the corvettes for the Indian Navy besides others.

The ban on import of 49 of the 108 items comes into effect by the end of the year and on the remaining 59 by the end of December 2025, coinciding with the culmination of the first positive list.

Views of an expert

“Continued reliance on import of ammunition and chronic shortages have been a subject matter of various official reports in the past. Every time a crisis surfaces -the most recent one in the Galwan valley in Ladakh last June- MoD scurries to buy assorted ammunition from abroad. It is unclear whether these lists will help MoD in at least getting over this embarrassing situation,” opines Amit Cowshish, former Financial Advisor (Acquisition), Ministry of Defence.

Sharing his view with Financial Express Online, the former financial advisor (Acquisition) says, “The MoD’s expectation is that taking a cue from these lists, the private industry, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the Startups, will ramp up their research and development efforts and shore up manufacturing capabilities to meet the demand for these items.”

“It sounds promising, especially if one considers MoD’s claim that a hefty chunk of around Rs 70,000 crore has been kept aside for procurement from the domestic industry this year. On closer look, however, this claim does not inspire much confidence, as the payments to the public sector undertakings and the ordnance factories, apart from the expenditure on meeting the committed liabilities arising from the ongoing contracts could consume a sizable portion of this kitty,” Mr Cowshish adds.

“More importantly, there is a gap of more than Rs 77,000 crore between the requirement for capital expenditure projected by the services and the allocation for the current year. Budgetary constraints cannot be wished away and there is a possibility these could trump MoD’s claims about, and the industry’s expectations from, the positive list,” he observes.

View of SIDM

In an official statement issued by Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) late Monday evening, Jayant D Patil, President, SIDM said: “The List is comprehensive and has big ticket items that will be built in India and a great boost to making India ‘Aatmanirbhar’.”

The government and the armed forces have placed their confidence in the Industry to deliver cutting-edge Defence Technology for India’s security requirements, the President of SIDM has said.

According to the SIDM note, this list is expected to create long term opportunities for the industry, across the broad spectrum of military capabilities and will attract fresh investments into defence technologies and manufacturing capacities.

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