Deciphering growth and development in the defence sector

September 29, 2021 6:20 PM

The exponential growth is due to the support of the Indian Government and its policy makers who focused on enhancing the in-country domestic production of D&A articles/items under encouraging programs like self-reliant or Atamnirbhar Bharat.

The knowledge and know-how assimilated through this initiative would augment India's quest of becoming a prominent producer of the global market. (File image)The knowledge and know-how assimilated through this initiative would augment India's quest of becoming a prominent producer of the global market. (File image)

By Ajay Bedi

India is witnessing exciting developments in the defence and aerospace (D&A) industry.The industry which was mired with red-tapism, excessive controls etc., and majorly dependent on imports is eradicating all impediments enhancing its local defence production and taking slow and concerted steps to establish itself as a serious contender in the global arena. The exponential growth is due to the support of the Indian Government and its policy makers who focused on enhancing the in-country domestic production of D&A articles/items under encouraging programs like self-reliant or Atamnirbhar Bharat.

Some of the major steps which have provided the required impetus to this sector are: –

  •  Further consolidation of DDPMAS-2002 (design & development, production, modification, license production and indigenization of air systems and airborne stores in the Indian military airworthiness regulatory framework) with the latest DDPMAS version 1.0 in February 2021, made this document contemporary and exhaustive which promotes and prepare the Indian D&A industry for the global competition.
  • Issuance of items list put under import embargo, which will be consolidated gradually to reduce import dependence.
  • Approved budgetary funds worth Rs. 498.8 crore (US$ 66.83 million) to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX), a Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years, under Atamnirbhar Bharat.
  • Defence corridor initiative at Uttar Pradesh and Tamilnadu which provides various incentives to foreign companies and developing a defence park in Kerala to manufacture defence equipment for forces, through Indian MSMEs participations.
  • Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)jointly developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Armament Research Development Establishment (ARDE) Pune, Defence Electronics Application Laboratory, Dehradun, and Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Bengaluru, with the participation of corporates like Bharat Forge, TATA Power SED, Ashok Leyland, and Cummins.
  • Increased the FDI limit up to 74% under the automatic route to motivate foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to invest in India and collaborate with the local industry.
  • Issuance of two open general export licenses (OGELs, October -2019) for export of certain defence parts and components intra-company transfer of technology to select countries to give a boost to India’s defence exports.
  • Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP-2020), focus on boosting domestic defence industry and Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020’

The above-stated initiatives are targeting growth in D&A indigenous production with the export target in mind, which has opened new vistas for the Defence PSUs as well as the private and corporate industry associates involved in this robust industry. While discussing these new initiatives with the fellow members of the industry, it highlighted that we are focusing too much on the new procurement or inclined towards capital procurement, export enhancement etc., whereas we need to parallelly concentrate on sprucing up the maintenance and support activities in-country to work towards self-reliance, which itself is a daunting task.The in-country support mechanism withthe strategic involvement of MSMEs will provide a foundation for the holistic growth of the Indian industry involved in this sector. Must encourage the MSMEs with incentivizing policies to foster tie-up with global vendors in this field, starting with small but critical components like communication, Surveillance, EWS etc. It will also boost the standards of testing and evaluation of an item or a gadget. The knowledge and know-how assimilated through this initiative would augment India’s quest of becoming a prominent producer of the global market.

The D&A sector is stringently ruled by its quality standards and precision products.Global industrial production is subjected to global specifications. The most used identification criteria of ‘standardized material items of supply are the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), National Stock Number (NSN) orNATO Item Identification Number (NIIN). Besides that, some of the industry standards in the Indian context are broadly described below:

Parameter for Facility/Company are as follows:

  • Certification: AS 9100 rev D required for QMS system for aerospace machine and parts manufacturers
  • Certification:NADCAPrequired forNADCAP accreditation is an industry managed accreditation based upon a consensus of the quality requirement for the Aerospace industry. Currently, NADCAP accreditation is given for the following Aero Structure Assembly Chemical Processing Coatings Composites Conventional Machining Elastomer Seals Electronics Fluid Distribution Systems Forgings Heat Treating Materials Testing Measurement & Inspection Non-Destructive Testing Non-Metallic Materials Manufacturing Non-Metallic Materials Testing Nonconventional Machining Sealants Surface Enhancement Welding
  • Certification: CEMILACrequired forApproval as Design House in case of design and development
  • Certification: DGAQA / DGQA required forDGAQA registration shall be mandatory for all vendors/firms to supply aviation-related stores to service HQs through the respective central procurement agency. DGQA for all other central procurement requirements

Parameter for Product/Component are as follows:

  • Certification: CEMILACrequired forType test is required for products developed under indigenization. These include systems, LRUs, raw material and consumables
  • Certification: PMA / DGCA approval required forProducing replacement or modification parts for sale for installation on a type-certificated product by FAA or BASA signatory countries

Parameter for Marine is as follows:

  • Marine class approval of manufacturer American Bureau of Shipping(ABS)Bureau Veritas Mode II Certificate Bureau Veritas China Classification Society(CCS)Class NK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai) DNV-GL Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) Korean Register (KR)Lloyd ,RINA Russian Maritime Various rules are followed for different equipment ranging from ISO to ASTM Standards required for both factory and process.

Note

1. The certification requirement may vary from OEM to OEMs

2. Some OEMs may only require a type approval certificate from any certifying body and some OEMs may require ‘Class Approval’ certificate.

3. Above listed certificate is the basic certificate that a supplier must have, however the OEMs requirement may differ for specific item/component or assembly.

The compliances, standards, certifications are the backbone of this industry, and these are constantly evolving in this high-tech industry. The evolutions and inventions are an important factor if you look at it commercially, the innovations get you ahead of your competition, which yields more revenue till the time some other invention captures the market in the same field, it’s an ongoing process globally. One needs to be on top of this aspect, in this cutthroat sector. The people associated with this sector in India have raised some concerns about the quality parameters of the products locally produced; they feel that the prescribed norms and standards are either diluted or are circumvented while serving the industry under the Atamnirbhar and Self-reliant Bharat schemes of the Government of India. This is a serious issue that compromises the effectiveness of an item and even affects its life cycle. This is witnessed across the sector, from end-users, DPSUs to the Private manufacturers.

The other related factor is the awareness of the end-user staff, at times it reflected that the designated executive or team is not well aligned with the required standards, hence they are being manipulated by the service providers.This lack of awareness needs to be plugged through constant training of field staff via seminars, designated courses, or awareness camps to be requested through the international integrator or OEMs. The GOI must ensure strictly that the quality of the indigenous products is meeting the global standards. That will help the Indian industry to prosper globally and would guarantee its sustainability in this fiercely competitive sector.

The unflinching quality and adherence to global parameters deliver promising results and would accelerate the growth and development of the Indian industry which desires to play a prominent role globally. We need to work diligently and consistently to become a reckoning force in this sector. The concerted efforts with integrity will help us in growing as a reliable, promising, and mature producer of the Defence and Aerospace components/items.

Let us contribute to the Indian government’s new draft policy that sets a USD 25 billion defence production target, making USD 5 billion from exports, by 2025.

(The author is an Independent Defence Industry Consultant. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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