In a major boost to local defence manufacturing, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the new Light Combat Helicopter Production Hangar at Helicopter Division in HAL Complex in Bengaluru. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) which is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter.

The chopper is powered by two Shakti engines and has the capability to land in forward Bases at Siachen, 4,700 metres above sea level with 500 kg load. R. Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) added, "LCH is completely ready for operational induction" and the new production hangar has been constructed to ramp up the manufacturing. Rajnath Singh appreciated the progress of new design and development programme of indigenous Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH).

Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister inaugurating Light Combat Helicopter Production Hangar in BengaluruCredit:Twitter

The IMRH project is aimed at replacing the existing medium-lift helicopters such as Mi17's, Kamovs and Seakings which will be phased out in the coming 10-12 years.

Praising the role of HAL in local manufacturing and towards the exports of defence equipment, Raksha Mantri added, "HAL has achieved operational clearance on seven platforms, including Light Combat Aircraft and Light Combat Helicopter, and overhauled platforms like Hawk and SU 30 MKI." He further added, "There has been an increase in defence exports that have crossed Rs 17,000 crore in the last two years." The country has set a target of Rs 35,000 crore for the coming years.

Defence exports: Still a distant dream

Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister inaugurating Light Combat Helicopter Production Hangar in HAL Complex BengaluruCredit:Twitter

Undoubtedly, the value of production of DPSUs has increased since the last decade but not up to the desired level. The publically held defence undertakings have not been able to supply the military products to our forces, leaving it to the mercy of the foreign vendors costing huge import bills.

In recent years, the DPSUs have managed to shore up volumes but the value addition has registered a subdued growth. Despite having the world's third-largest defence budget in 2019, India still procures around 60 per cent of its weapon system. On the exporting front, countries like Pakistan has sold more weapon system in the foreign market than India.