Make in India to reduce defence imports: Official

Bengaluru, July 24 (IANS) A paradigm shift is required in policies and procedures to ‘Make in India’ and enable the country reduce imports and increase indigenisation for self-reliance in aerospace and defence, a senior official said on Friday.

“We need a paradigm shift in manufacturing of defence equipment to reverse imports from 70 percent and increase production from 30 percent by making more in India,” Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) chairman and managing director V. Udaybhaskar said at an aerospace and defence manufacturing summit here.

Lauding the ‘Make in India’ initiative as timely and encouraging, he said increasing public-private partnership would not only reduce defence imports, but also scale up local manufacturing capacity for exports after meeting the needs of the Indian armed forces.

“Though only nine state-run enterprises and ordnance units manufacture defence equipment with the help of the private sector, we need to increase outsourcing to the latter for make in India to be a reality,” Udaybhaskar told the delegates in the two-day summit.

Noting that increasing PPP would help both sectors to leverage the country’s resources and human capital, he said the Hyderabad-based BDL was outsourcing 80 percent of its missile production requirements to the private sector by transferring technology and providing skilling.

“In case of Akash surface-to-air missile system, which is totally indigenous, 80 percent of its production was outsourced to private firms, while assembling and integrating was done by us and Bharat Electronic Ltd (BEL) with technology transfer from DRDO,” Udaybhaskar said.

As the first indigenously built missile air defence system, Akash was designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and BEL integrated it for induction in the Indian Air Force on July 10.

“To make in India programme a success, the public and private sectors have to scale up production capacity and skilled manpower, invest more in research and development in new technologies and materials to compete with the best in the global aerospace and defence equipment markets,” Udaybhaskar said.

Admitting that the private sector was hesitant to invest in defence manufacturing as it was capital-intensive and lacked volume, he said under Make in India initiative, it could set up joint ventures with overseas manufactures or suppliers and have their latest technology transferred to make sub-systems, components and spare parts to increase local content and benefit from the offset policy.

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