India’s approach to indigenisation of defence production has not been yielding desired results. The new procurement procedure addresses this issue.

While the world is grappling with coronavirus, Ministry of Defence released another updated edition of Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP 2020) last week, with a view to boost indigenisation and reduce reliance on defence imports. It proposes a higher percentage of indigenous content, new multipliers in defence offsets, a new innovative category for leasing, and new options for equipment sustainment activity.
Our approach to indigenisation has not been yielding desired results. It has a basic flaw, that it is majorly dependant on public sector, for manufacture as well as for research and development (R&D). The private sector should have been involved in big way, a long time ago. Even now, public and private sectors are competing in defence field. There is a need to collaborate more, although some competition is good for both sides. The new edition of DPP 2020 should be addressing this to some extent. DPP is primarily focused on procurement, and not on development. Transformational reforms are required to get industry to participate as an equal not only in defence manufacturing but in R&D as well.

Chinese model - While the US, UK and Australia have a dynamic public private partnership (PPP) in place, let us examine the Chinese model, as they have State Owned Enterprises (SOE) like our PSUs. Having opened up the defence industry to private sector in a collaborative model for design and development, in addition to manufacturing, their armed forces have to buy indigenously manufactured products, and later execute incremental product improvements.
In our context, let us take the case of manufacture of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Even if LCA is not the top of the rack fighter aircraft in the world, we can make incremental product improvements as we go along. The responsibility for this should be given to the Indian Air Force.

In fact, user interface in aviation industry is low. Navy, on the other hand, has been in the driving seat in ship building ever since the sixties, when a Directorate of Naval Design was set up. The Air Chief will have to be made responsible for product improvement of LCA. To accomplish this, he will also have to be given the authority to coordinate the activities of three major organisations that majorly constitute the aviation industry in public sector , namely Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) , Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Gas Turbine Research Agency (GTRE).

If space sector can be a success story in the country, there is no reason why aviation sector cannot. Public private partnership between ISRO and Godrej is also an example to learn from. Space assets and satellites are mostly dual use platforms. Similarly, aviation sector in India lends itself to combining the buying power of private sector as well. In the next decade or so, India is forecast to acquire over a thousand commercial aircraft. Our armed forces too want to buy roughly same number of fixed and rotary wing aircraft put together. At a national level, we would do well to leverage this aspect to our advantage. On the converse, India must be the only country that holds separate air shows for military and civil sectors. Even developed countries have combined air shows and efforts.

Need greater participation of Services - When armed forces draw up their criteria for acquisition of modernisation equipment, they would want the best possible. To be told to take ownership of an Indian product and put it through incremental product improvements, there will be a requirement to introduce changes in rules in a big way. For decades, our defence needs have been serviced largely by public sector that works in silos. It is time to synergise the silos, and enhance the user interface. Services should be put in the lead, making them accountable, albeit with adequate authority.
Public sector is a huge asset, only in need of optimisation. Public sector is a repository of significant amount of technology transfers, has huge infrastructure in terms of plant, equipment, experience and skilled human resource. Great potential, that best practices can optimise well. We would do well to move seriously on corporatisation of ordnance factories, making defence PSUs competitive, and try PPP models like government owned company operated (GOCO).

Private sector participation - Transformational reforms are required to get private industry to participate as an equal not only in defence manufacture but in R&D as well. This will mean incentivising R&D by private sector. Even after conditions are made favourable for private sector’s participation in defence sector, they will need technology, which is a serious shortcoming in our country. To bridge this technology gap, a ‘Strategic Partnership’ scheme has been launched for big platforms, so that private sector can leapfrog to better technology by collaborating with defence majors in the world, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Similarly, in low tech manufacturing segment too, we could adopt more of a joint venture (JV) approach with foreign manufacturers, where required. A good example is manufacture of rifles in India as a JV with Kalashnikov. Although that is a JV with ordnance factories, similar model can be followed by private industry for low tech- high population weapons, equipment or even ammunition. These have huge scope for export as well. The ‘Buy Global – Manufacture in India’ category introduced in DPP 2020 should be able to address that.

Recently, two Defence Industrial Corridors have been announced by the govt, one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Together with these measures and more, defence industry can actually drive the ‘Make in India’ growth story, if we kick-start the private sector entry into defence manufacturing, R&D and exports, as well as public private partnership.

This Article is written by Lt General Satish Dua is a former Corps Commander in Kashmir, who retired as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.Download Draft

Important Covid-19 news to fight the pandemic

An excellent compilation by TTC of:-

(I) Directives/Advisories by Government of India ( Central Government level) to contain COVID-19

(II) Directives/Advisories by State Governments/UTs to contain COVID-19 (Download Here)

Important Covid-19 Gazette of India Ordinance Document Dated: 31/03/2020

  • Relaxation of certain provisions relating to Taxation & Other Law . Download News Here

  • India’s defence exports rise over 5 times in last 4 years

    • According to the DDP dashboard, India’s export of military equipment increased from Rs 1521.86 in FY 2016-17 to Rs 8,620.59 in the last fiscal 2019-20.

    • Increase in India’s defence exports in the last four years has been more than 5-and-half times while the target for FY 2020-21 is Rs 15,000 crore, according to the data updated by DDP on April 14, 2020.

    • Private sector companies have been the biggest beneficiaries of the export orders as per data released by the Department of Defence Production. Their exports have increased from just Rs 194.35 crore in FY 2016-17 to over Rs 8013.65 crore in fiscal 2019-20. On the other hand, export by DPSUs and OFB have come down from Rs 1327.51 crore in FY 2016-17 to just Rs 403.94 crore in fiscal 2019-20.

    Halt all acquisitions, armed forces told as Pandemic threatens budget

    • The Department of Military Affairs has asked the three forces to put their capital acquisitions on hold in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    • The armed forces are in different stages of acquiring multiple platforms for modernising their arsenal. The Indian Air Force, for instance, is in the process of making payments for 36 Rafale combat aircraft from France and S-400 air defence weapon systems from Russia. The Indian Army is also acquiring tanks, artillery guns and assault rifles from different countries, while the Navy recently signed the deal for 24 multirole choppers from the US.

    Dassault Reliance Aerospace resumes operations at Mihan SEZ

    • Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL) on Monday (20 April 2020) re-started operations at its Mihan special economic zone (SEZ) in Nagpur, in line with the government’s plan to lift the nationwide lockdown in a phased manner.

    • The company will operate with 25-30% of its total strength in the first phase, and plans to scale up operations as per the directives of the district administration and local authorities.

    General Dynamics unveils its newest MPF combat vehicle

    • General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, has demonstrated its newest combat vehicle that it developed for the U.S Army Mobile Protected Firepower program.

    • The new vehicle was showcased during a visit of the Secretary of the Army, Hon. Ryan D. McCarthy, and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Joseph M. Martin, at the General Dynamics facility in Detriot, Mi., on 23 April. U.S. Army leadership visited General Dynamics and BAE Systems facilities in Detroit to inspect several promising military programs that continue to progress despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • The new large-caliber combat vehicle is designed to provide a mobile, protected, direct, offensive fire capability across the spectrum of terrains and operations for the army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The vehicles are required to be highly lethal, survivable and mobile. The U.S. Army expects that new ‘light tank’ will be a 38-ton tracked armored vehicle capable to provide soldiers with speed, protection, lethality and the ability to wage a multidomain battle, working in concert with other ground forces to overwhelm the enemy with multiple simultaneous challenges. The new “light tank” will have improved armor and a 105 mm main gun.

    ISRO Gaganyaan mission on a lookout for inflatable habitats, space food

    • The announcement of opportunities shows that ISRO is on a lookout for technologies that can establish long term research as well as plan for necessary facilities. This includes human resource development for optimal utilization of experimental applications and technological developments.

    • ISRO is currently looking for 18 technologies including radiation hazards characterisation and mitigation techniques, space food and related technologies, inflatable habitats technology, human robotic interfaces, thermal protection systems, environmental control and life support systems, green propulsion, advanced materials, debris management and mitigation, energy harness and storage, in-situ 3d manufacturing technologies for space, fluid technology and management, space bioengineering, bioastronautics, simulated gravity technologies, human psychology for long term missions, space medicine and diagnosis, any other relevant technology related to human space program.

    Russian T-14 Armata tanks tested in Syria

    • The T-14 tank has been tested in Syria. Russia used them in field conditions and took into account all the nuances.

    • The Armata is a heavy tracked standardized platform serving as the basis to develop a main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier and some other armoured vehicles. The T-14 tank is based on the Armata platform. The new combat vehicle features fully digitized equipment, an unmanned turret and an isolated armoured capsule for the crew.

    • Serial supplies of the platform to Russian troops will begin in 2021.

    • Russia plans to begin work with potential foreign buyers of Russian Armata tanks and has already received a number of advance orders.

    Germany to order 45 F-18 fighter jets from Boeing

    • Germany will order 45 fighter aircraft from Boeing Co. to replace the Luftwaffe’s aging Tornado jets, according to the magazine Der Spiegel.

    • Germany will order 30 F/A-18 Super Hornets and 15 EA-18G Growlers.

    Pakistan reportedly starts receiving VT4 main battle tanks from China

    • Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), is reportedly starting to deliver new VT4 main battle tanks to Pakistan which is to receive at least 100 units.

    • The MBT-3000, also named VT4 for the export version, is a new generation of main battle tank designed and manufactured by NORINCO.

    • According to this company, the MBT-3000 benefits from the latest technology for main battle tanks specially designed to meet the challenge of high-tech warfare. Its overall performance and combat capability puts this tank among the most advanced ones in the world.

    Lockheed looks to sell additional F-16s to customers in Africa, Asia and South America

    •Lockheed Martin anticipates another wave of international F-16 sales, to countries in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, according to the company’s chief financial officer.

    • According the CFO, it is a good fourth-generation aircraft for those customers who cannot afford the F-35 or buy it as this time. It might be a good intermediary step for customers to go from the F-16 to F-35, so Lockheed sees it as complementary and not competing against themselves.

    Russia to test-fire Tsirkon anti-ship Mach 9 hypersonic missile 10 times in the next few months

    • Russia’s M-22 Tsirkon or Zircon anti-ship hypersonic missile will be test-fired at least 10 times in the next few months before it is inducted into service by 2022.

    • It will be fired from naval warships and submarines as part of the trials.

    • All the 10 trials will take place in 2020-2021 out of which seven to eight will be carried out from Admiral Gorshkov frigate. The remaining two to three test-firing will take place from the Severodvinsk submarine with at least one of them while submerged.

    Sri Lanka to seek currency swap worth USD 400 million from RBI to meet short term financial needs

    • Sri Lanka will enter into the agreement with the RBI for a Bilateral Currency Swap Arrangement worth USD 400 million to boost foreign reserves and ensure the financial stability of the country which is badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The swap arrangement is a decision two countries reach while doing trade related payment.

    • Sri Lanka has ordered imports restrictions to prevent non-essential imports. This is in view of the local rupee falling to its historical low against the US dollar. The rupee now hovers over 195 to the dollar gaining somewhat from being down to 200 mark.

    • The government has also announced talks with Asian Development Bank (ADB) and China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. A USD 300 million budgetary support is anticipated from the ADB.

    • Largely owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank recently forecast Sri Lankan economy to contract by 3 per cent this year as against a 2. 4 per cent estimated growth last year, whilst the IMF predicted the global economy to contract by 3 per cent as well.

    Australia pitches for trilateral cooperation with India, Indonesia

    • In an address to the National Defence College (NDC), Mr. Barry O’Farrell, Australian High Commissioner-designate said that India and Australia will face common challenges in the Indo-Pacific as the COVID-19 pandemic is stretching much of the world’s governmental capacity.

    • He called for greater cooperation especially stressing on trilateral cooperation between India, Australia and Indonesia.

    • He said that the three countries should build on last year’s successful trilateral maritime security workshop with Indonesia to identify new ways in which the three countries can collaborate to be the best possible custodians of the Indian Ocean.

    • On enhancing bilateral cooperation, he said there were many ways through which India and Australia could reinforce each other’s efforts and one of the ways was by making defence facilities available to each other to expand their militaries’ respective operational reach. This was already an evolving area with a logistics support agreement in the final stages of being concluded.

    • The High Commissioner designate also referred to the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region which is emerging as a regional hub for monitoring maritime movements and cooperation.

    • He also mentioned the increasingly common platforms operated by the two militaries acquired from the U.S., the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft, and India’s soon-to-be-acquired MH-60 Romeo multi-role helicopters.

    US next generation missile interceptor programme officially launched

    • The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has released its request for proposal for its Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI), tasked with forming the core of the country’s homeland missile defence.

    • The RFP, released on 24 April, says that it allows contractors 90 days to provide proposals to the government beginning 1 May 2020.

    • With proposals due 31 July, the MDA allowed for a timetable review in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • Eventually, two companies will be selected who will compete for the right to build the interceptor, according to the research, development, and acquisition agency that works on ballistic missile defence systems for the US.

    • Specifically, for the NGI programme, the agency earlier requested $664.1 million in fiscal year 2021 as part of a $4.9 billion five-year budget plan.

    Russian soldiers to receive wearable thermal imagers

    • Russian Armed Forces will begin receiving Sych wearable thermal imagers for engineering reconnaissance.

    • State tests of the Sych-ZIR wearable engineering reconnaissance device, created at the Ziklon Central Research Institute by the order of the Ministry of Defense, have ended successfully recently and the devices will be available for the Armed Forces starting in 2021.

    Pakistan successfully test-fires anti-ship missiles

    • Pakistan successfully conducted a test firing of anti-ship missiles in the North Arabian Sea, said a statement from the Pakistan Navy on Saturday (25 April 2020).

    • According to the statement, warships and airplanes fired anti-ship missiles at sea level which hit their targets accurately.

    Export configuration of Russia’s Bumerang combat vehicle to differ from domestic version

    • The Bumerang is the latest standardized wheeled platform for multiservice forces developed by the Military Industrial Company. The platform was used as the basis for developing the K-16 armoured personnel carrier, and the K-17 infantry fighting vehicle.

    • A promotional certificate and an export configuration certificate have been formalized for combat vehicles based on the Bumerang standardized platform. The configuration of the vehicles intended for exports differs from those that go to the Russian Army by communications and automated combat control systems, electromagnetic shielding and protection systems against WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and a means of reducing visibility on the battlefield. At the same time, the combat vehicles’ design will not undergo any changes.

    • Russia has started to promote the export of armoured vehicles based on the latest Bumerang combat platform, with their sales estimated at about $1 billion.

    • Countries of Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the CIS have already displayed their interest in the Bumerang combat vehicle.

    India reviews FDI policy

    • The Centre on Saturday, 18 April 2020, amended the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy to ensure no hostile takeover of firms facing stress due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.

    • According to the amendment, an entity of a country, which shares land border with India or where the beneficial owner of an investment into India is situated in or is a citizen of any such country, can invest only under the Government route.

    • Just last week, China’s People’s Development Bank had picked up over 1% stake in India’s largest private lender HDFC bank.

    India develops unique model to hit targets without positioning error

    • Due to the unavailability of a reliable model to predict the electron density of the ionosphere, navigation errors remain, creating technological hurdles. A new model developed by Indian researchers has potential applications in calculating these Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) positioning errors.

    • Scientists from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), have developed a global model to predict ionospheric electron density with larger data coverage.

    • Named as an ‘Artificial Neural Networks-based global Ionospheric Model’ (ANNIM), the model can be applied for all kinds of GNSS based positioning, aviation and navigation applications.

    • It successfully reproduced large-scale anomalies in the ionosphere caused by solar and cosmic radiation. The model can minimize positioning errors in navigation. It may not be possible to eliminate the errors completely.

    • Although several fighter jets and other missile systems have been fitted with highly-accurate navigation systems, few weapons in service can yet take advantage of this model. The model can also be used for scientific investigations into space weather.