Self-reliance in the Defence Sector


    In News

    • Recently concluded DefExpo22 exposed the need for India to acquire self-reliance in the defence sector.

    More about the news

    • Need of self-reliance in the defence sector:
      • National security:
        • Even as India aspires to become a $5-trillion economy, it is evident that it faces many national security inadequacies. 
      • Dependency on foreign suppliers:
        • The high dependency index on foreign suppliers (traditionally the former USSR now Russia) for major military inventory items is stark. 
        • This dependency induces a macro national vulnerability and dilutes India’s quest for meaningful and credible strategic autonomy
      • Combat capacity:
        • Furthermore, the current gaps in combat capacity expose the chinks in the Indian ability to safeguard core national security interests
      • Meeting targets:
        • The government has set a defence export target of $5 billion (Rs 40,000 crore).
          • This is an ambitious target and will demand mission-mode resolve to be realised.
    • India’s progress in recent years:
      • India’s defence exports have grown eight times in the last five years
      • India is exporting defence materials and equipment to more than 75 countries of the world
      • In 2021-22, defence exports from India reached $1.59 billion (about Rs 13,000 crore)

    Major defence-related events in the recent period include

    • The commissioning of the indigenously-designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant
    • The firing of an SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) from the INS Arihant
    • The radical decision to award the manufacture of a military transport aircraft (C 295) to a major private sector entity; 
    • The induction of the made in India Prachand LCH (light combat helicopter); and 
    • The conclusion of a deal with Russia to manufacture a Kalashnikov-type light weapon/small arms in India.


    • Global issues:
      • Unexpected exigencies such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other factors including the Covid that disrupted the global economy and related supply chains. 
    • Weakening of rupee:
      • The global challenges are further exacerbated by a weakening rupee add to the challenges faced by the Indian defence manufacturing ecosystem.
    • Manufacturing sector:
      • India missed the industrial design and manufacturing bus, a national competence demonstrated by nations like South Korea and China, over the last five decades. 
      • Technological advances have made the design and manufacture of the semiconductor chip the new currency of national prosperity and military power
      • The US and China are now locked in intense competition in this domain and India is yet to acquire a profile that would be deemed relevant.

    Aatmanirbhar in defence production

    • Make-I Category:
      • About: 
        • Under the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020, ‘Make’ Category aims to achieve self-reliance by involving greater participation of Indian industry.  
        • Projects involving design and development of equipment, systems, major platforms or upgrades thereof by the industry can be taken up under this category. 
      • Financial Support:
        • The Ministry of Defence will provide financial support up to 70% of the total cost of prototype development.
    • Make-II Category:
      • It is funded by industry with assured procurement. The following platform has been listed –
        • Anti-jamming Systems for Multiple Platforms
    • Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Model:
      • Under this, private industry will be encouraged to take up the design and development of military platforms and equipment in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other organisations.  
      • Following two platforms have been identified under this category.
        • Long Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) [High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE)]
        • Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH)
    • iDEX:
      • Projects of Start-ups, MSMEs etc. involving high-end innovation would be pursued under the iDEX category and the following platform has been selected under this category –
        • Low Orbit Pseudo Satellites.

    New Developments at DefExpo2022

    • HTT-40 aircraft:
      • The HTT-40 indigenous trainer aircraft was unveiled at the India Pavilion during the Expo.
        • It is designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
    • Deesa airfield:
      • The foundation stone for the Deesa airfield in Gujarat which will be a forward Air Force base was also unveiled. 
        • Forward air force base would add to the security architecture of the country. 
    • Mission DefSpace:
      • “Mission DefSpace” is launched for developing innovative solutions for the Armed Forces.
    • Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave:
      • The 2nd Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave was also held during the Expo, 
        • This will provide a stage for a comprehensive dialogue to promote defence cooperation amongst IOR+ nations to foster peace, growth, stability and prosperity.
        • It is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision for Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)
    • India-Africa Defence Dialogue:
      • India-Africa Defence Dialogue was held on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022.
      • Gandhinagar Declaration was adopted to enhance cooperation in the fields of training & military exercises.
      • The theme of the second India-Africa defence dialogue was: 
        • “Adopting strategies for synergising and strengthening defence and security cooperation”.
    • This is the first defence expo where only Indian companies are participating and it features only Made in India equipment.

    Way Ahead

    • To become a major defence manufacturer, India needs to reexamine its structure of governing defence production, as the Chinese did in 2000.
    • Progressively changing this techno-strategic landscape in India’s favour should be accorded the highest priority in the national policy debate.
      • This will give a chance to employing more people in India and thereby increasing the Growth parameters of the Economy.

    Source: IE