Defence Expo 2018: India's indigenous defence industry, over several years, has achieved multiple successes to its credit across the spectrum of armed forces.
Defence Expo 2018: Just like its economy, the defence preparedness of a country also forms its backbone. Self-sufficiency in defence products and equipments manufacturing is a milestone that every developing country hopes to achieve – and India is no different. India’s indigenous defence industry, over several years, has achieved multiple successes to its credit across the spectrum of armed forces – Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. Whether it is universal missile systems like BrahMos or indigenous ship and submarine building capability – India’s defence industry is constantly learning, evolving and is expected to be a flourishing ecosystem. India has successfully absorbed foreign technology and has also made weapon systems of its own. Arjun battle tanks, Pinaka rockets, under-construction aircraft carrier INS Vikrant – the list of lethal and potent indigenous defence systems is endless. The defence industry, including MSMEs, are increasingly being encouraged to build world-class weapons by the government under the ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative. As Defence Expo 2018 – a platform for Indian and foreign OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to showcase their latest technology on offer for India – kicks off on April 11, we take a look at 5 world-class state-of-the-art indigenous defence systems that India is proud of:
Did you know that India owns the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile? Thanks to BrahMos Aerospace, a joint venture between India and Russia, this feat has been possible! BrahMos, a universal supersonic cruise missile, is perhaps the biggest success story of how a JV with a foreign country can yield a successful weapon and an expanding defence ecosystem. BrahMos missile can be fired from major elements of earth – land, air and water! The lethal weapon has already been inducted into the Indian Army and the Indian Navy and has been tested for Indian Air Force (IAF) recently. In a first for the world, a missile as heavy as BrahMos was integrated on IAF’s frontline fighter jet Sukhoi-30 MKI and test-fired successfully.
Over the years, the percentage of indigenous components in the BrahMos missile has consistently increased. In a game-changing achievement for India, the BrahMos missile was recently test-fired successfully with an indigenous seeker. Defence experts have hailed this test as a milestone for both BrahMos and the indigenous defence industry. For a missile, a seeker is one of the most important components, that helps hone in on the target with greater precision. To successfully demonstrate the ability to ‘Make in India’ an indigenous seeker, is an engineering accomplishment that will give a big impetus to India’s missile programme and defence industry.
With India becoming a part of the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime), Russia was able to share with it technology that would allow the range for BrahMos to be extended beyond 300-km. Making full use of this, India in 2017 successfully tested with 100% precision a 450-km extended range BrahMos missile. Not only that, an almost 800-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile is in the making and is expected to be tested in a year’s time!
In the years to come, BrahMos will also be upgraded to a hypersonic missile with a speed of 5 Mach as against its present speed of 2.8 Mach. BrahMos is a two-stage missile that works on the fire-and-forget principle. The missile can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg, has a cruising altitude of 15km. As mentioned above, BrahMos is a missile that can be fired from a land-based platform, from a ship (both vertical and inclined), from an underwater submarine and an aircraft! The missile’s universal nature and precision-strike capabilities have grabbed global eyeballs with several countries expressing interest in purchasing the missile system. These include Peru, Chile and Vietnam.
Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)
India’s LCA Tejas programme is significant for many reasons – for one it gives the IAF much-needed light combat power – for another, and more importantly, it establishes India’s capability to make fighter aircraft. Designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and manufactured by defence PSU HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited), Tejas is a single-engine fighter aircraft, that is light-weight and highly agile. The multi-role fighter aircraft has several features such as; quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system, glass cockpit, autopilot feature, use of composite materials etc. Recently, HAL said that Tejas will be able fly with hot refuelling capability. This feature allows for the aircraft to be refuelled even with its engine in operation. IAF is likely to induct hundreds of Tejas aircraft, especially the Tejas MK II variety which will have even more advanced features. Interestingly, BrahMos, the formidable missile system mentioned above is also being developed for the Tejas aircraft! A BrahMos NG, a lighter version of the missile, is being made which when combined with the LCA will make the system a formidable combination. Reports suggest that Tejas will get the BrahMos NG as early as 2019.
The indigenous AKASH missile system is an indigenously designed and developed surface-to-air missile which has even generated export interest! Reports suggest that Vietnam has expressed interest in buying the system that packs a formidable punch. AKASH missile system, a big success for the indigenous defence sector, is a lethal weapon that can intercept incoming hostile sub-sonic cruise missiles, drones, helicopters and aircraft. This can be done up to a distance of 25 km. The all-weather weapons system is mult-directional and can engage multiple targets. In 2017, AKASH short-range surface-to-air missile was tested successfully with an indigenous seeker for the first time. This has given India the capability to making any type of surface-to-air missile, says the Defence Ministry.
Diesel-electric submarines – Project 75I of Indian Navy
Scorpene-class submarines are being manufactured by defence PSU Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in association with French firm DCNS. But as Indian Navy inducts these new submarines into its fleet, the need for more modern technology is evident. Even as India builds Scorpene-class submarines under Project 75, talks are already on for Project 75I which will involve manufacturing world-class state-of-the-art diesel electric submarines at a shipyard in India. For the same, the Defence Ministry has already issued an RFI (Request for Information) for more advanced submarines. At Defence Expo 2018, Russia is expected to hard-sell its Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system as part of the Transfer of Technology (ToT) under Project 75I. Russia is also saying that Indian submarines made with Russian ToT will be able to better absorb missile technologies such as BrahMos. A PTI report last year suggested that four foreign ship-builders are among the top contenders for this project. These are Russia’s Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, a French naval group, Sweden’s Saab group. A total of six submarines are to be made under Project 75 I.
Dhanush 155-mm artillery gun
Manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Dhanush artillery guns for the Indian Army are an upgraded version of the Swedish 155-mm Howitzer guns. The upgraded version of Howitzer, the 45-calibre Dhanush has a range of 38-km. Undergoing extensive trials, the Dhanush artillery guns are said to be around 80% indigenous and will give the Indian Army much-needed fire-power. A few years ago, OFB was given an order to make 414 Howitzers for the Indian Army. The Dhanush artillery guns have been manufactured at an approximate cost of Rs 14.5 crore. Meanwhile, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) in association with Kalyani Group, Tata Power and OFB has developed an Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS). The artillery gun will go into proper production soon. The 155 mm, 52 calibre ATAGS recently passed a high-altitude winter test in Sikkim.