Defence News: India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat Monday assured the country’s defence companies about Indian military’s commitment to support them as the country seeks to become self-reliant in defence production in the next five years.
General Rawat said that there could be no greater satisfaction for the armed forces than fighting and coming out victorious in war with made in India weapon systems.
“Nothing will give us greater satisfaction than fighting and coming out victorious in wars with indigenous technology and equipment,” said General Bipin Rawat while clarifying that armed forces do not have any bias towards imported equipment.
While addressing a webinar organised by the industry body FICCI, General Bipin Rawat assured that Indian military was committed to hand-hold the domestic defence industry in development of cutting edge weapon systems.
Time bound defence procurement
General Rawat also told industry leaders to ensure a time-bound defence procurement process as this is the key focus of the newly-created Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
India has seen numerous delays in procurement of urgently needed weapon systems due to complex procurement processes and requirements to comply with various checks and balances in defence procurement that have been introduced over the decades to curb corruption in defence expenditure.
No preference for imported weapons: General Bipin Rawat
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) also debunked the perception that the armed forces prefer imported equipment.
“I would like to reiterate our unequivocal assurance of our commitment to procuring indigenous equipment and weapon systems. This reiteration is necessary because at times we are incorrectly perceived to have an import bias. In reality, nothing could be further from reality,” said the country’s top military officer.
Indian military provides huge business opportunity
General Bipin Rawat said the combined size of armed forces, huge inventory, the technology spread of the equipment and need for its constant upkeep and maintenance provides a viable market to Indian industry.
General Rawat also elaborated on various policy initiatives by the government to promote the domestic defence industry and said the strength of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) should be utilised in bringing out new equipment and technologies.
“We have a very strong private sector and we can leverage our market access to make India a global hub for design and manufacture of defence equipment and further integrate into the global supply chain,” said General Rawat.
He urged the defence industry to invest in research and development in the field of diverse technologies, particularly in the area of niche and disruptive technologies.
Indian Military committed to self-reliant India (Atma Nirbhar Bharat)
Addressing the gathering of top military officers and industry leaders, General Rawat said Indian military was committed to supporting ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ Abhiyan (self-reliant India mission) launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
“We assure you of adopting a more transparent and open approach with industry to acquaint them with services requirements and understanding industry capability and limitations,” General Rawat said.
General Rawat’s assurance follows several policy initiatives that include a negative list of 101 weapon systems that have been banned from importing into the country.
In a related development, the DRDO also submitted a list of 108 military systems and subsystems like navigation radars, tank transporters and missile canisters for the domestic industry to design, develop and manufacture.
The DRDO said it will also provide support to industries for design, development and testing of these systems on a requirement basis. It has set a target of next year in developing the 108 systems and subsystems.
Turning the tide
According to SIPRI data base, India held the dubious distinction of the world’s largest defence importer for several years in a row.
According to some estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around US$130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been trying to turn the tide by developing the indigenous defence research and development capabilities.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has set a goal of turnover US$25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years that included an export target of US$5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.
Covid-19 prepared the country for future challenges
While talking about the impact of Covid-19 global pandemic on India’s defence industry and military preparedness, General Rawat said the collective response to the pandemic prepared the country for future challenges ahead.
“India today is transiting through a period which is chequered with numerous challenges and threats. Our collective response to COVID-19 has firmly established our ability to overcome any such unforeseeable eventuality,” General Rawat said.