Arms import embargo list to be expanded - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Arms import embargo list to be expanded

Army asks industry to step up, spells out four pieces of kit it wants developed indigenously

 

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 18th Aug 20

 

Senior army generals and Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials told defence industry executives on Monday that further curbs would be imposed on the import of defence equipment. To help deal with that, the defence industry was issued a list of items that needed to be developed in the country.

 

Raj Kumar, the MoD’s Secretary of Defence Production, addressing a virtual meeting organized by industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), said the MoD’s recently issued list of 101 defence items embargoed for import would soon be expanded.

 

““We are examining when the second (export embargo) list will come, and we expect you to come forward and start investing to meet our requirements… Domestic industry will now have to shoulder the responsibility of (supplying) embargoed items domestically,” said Kumar.

 

The army’s vice chief, Lieutenant General SK Saini and deputy chief, Lieutenant General SS Hasabnis, emphasized that indigenization would not be accompanied by any compromise on quality. “The equipment that you make for us must be the best in the world so that it complements the Indian soldier who is without doubt the very best in the world,” said Saini.

 

The army vice chief said that new acquisition procedures, such as the Make-II category, offered great opportunities to the domestic defence industry, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups.

 

Under the Make-II category, domestic industry is permitted to offer the military, even suo moto, defence products, services or processes they have developed. If the MoD finds merit, it can place a development order, even on a single vendor, with production orders assured once development is successfully concluded.

 

“We are today working on Make-II projects in diverse technology fields, including third-generation anti-tank guided missiles, BMP (infantry combat vehicle) upgrades, aerial targets, precision ammunition, tank ammunition, auxiliary power units, drones and mountain radars to name a few,” said Saini. 

 

He revealed that 28 Make-II category projects worth Rs 30,000 crore are currently under progress. Of these, 13 projects, valued at Rs 21,264 crore, are suo moto proposals received from the Indian industry.

 

“The first Request for Proposals (RFP, or tender) under the Make II route has been issued recently on July 13 for Manoeuvrable Expendable Aerial Targets (MEAT). One more RFP for an “Upgraded Assault Track-way and three project sanction orders valued at Rs 4,919 crore are going to be issued very soon,” said Saini.

 

Over the years, the army has been spelling out its equipment requirements, so that the defence industry could develop products that meet those needs. In 2019-20, the army underlined nine new projects and this year has asked for four more.

 

These are: an Infantry Weapon Training System, which is a simulator that allows small groups of soldiers to practice firing and manoeuvres in combat situations; a Drone Kill System (DKS), which shoots down hostile drones; an All-Terrain Heavy Duty Fork Lift for soldiers engaged in construction in remote and hostile terrain; and a Field Cipher Equipment Mark II that allows frontline soldiers to encode messages and communications.

 

In addition, the army has told industry that it wants wider industry participation in developing an automated, truck-mounted crane for artillery regiments that operate the recently acquired 155 millimetre ultra-light howitzer.

The navy and air force have accepted another 16 proposals. While the policy was formulated in the Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016 for the military, discussions are being held on whether to extend it to the central armed police forces under the Home Ministry. 


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