Combat Helicopter,HAL,

In a significant stride towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has received a request for proposal (RFP) from the Ministry of Defence for the procurement of 156 light combat helicopters (LCH). This move is a testament to the 'Make in India' initiative and the vision of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh towards achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing. The RFP, issued on June 18, 2024, has been a catalyst for a surge in HAL's shares, which jumped more than 4.3% to Rs 5,427 in morning trade on Tuesday, following a 4.62% increase on Monday.

The procurement of these helicopters is expected to be worth between Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 crore, marking a significant investment in India's defence sector. The LCHs, designed to undertake both anti-infantry and anti-armour missions, will be allocated to both the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. Specifically, 90 LCHs are intended for the Indian Army and 66 for the Indian Air Force. The helicopters are equipped with a tandem cockpit to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot/gunner and are capable of firing a range of air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles, thereby enhancing the country's defence capabilities.

Light Combat helicopter
Light Combat helicopter is indigenously developed by HAL.

Boosting 'Make in India' Initiative

This procurement aligns with the Indian government's broader goals of achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing under the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (Self-Reliant India) initiative. It supports the 'Make in India' drive, aimed at boosting indigenous production and reducing dependence on imports, thereby strengthening the country's defence capabilities and security apparatus. The move by the Ministry of Defence to procure 156 light combat helicopters further emboldens the vision of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh towards achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our aim will be to further strengthen the security apparatus of the country, with a focus on achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing, said Minister Singh after assuming charge in the new BJP-led NDA government. The policy of boosting defence production as part of the drive towards an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' is increasingly reflected in the rising order books of the country's defence equipment manufacturing companies and underlines a positive outlook for the sector ahead.

Impact on Defence Industry

For instance, Bengaluru-based Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a key player in the country's defence industry, has an order book that stands at a robust Rs 75,934 crore. Similarly, Larsen & Toubro, another major player in the defence industry, has an extensive order book worth a staggering Rs 94,000 crore. Before the new 156 light combat helicopters' order, HAL had an order book of Rs 38,561 crore and is poised for a bigger leap in technology as India and the US are ready to sign an agreement for the manufacture of advanced GE engines for military planes at HAL's facilities.

This development is expected to lead to a significant increase in orders and potentially drive revenue growth, as indicated by the jump in HAL's share prices following the RFP announcement. The government's plan of stepping up defence exports aims to catapult India as a major player in the global defence market. This is reflected in the interim Budget 2024-2025, where Rs 6,21,541 crore ($74.8 billion) has been earmarked for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), representing an increase of 4.7 per cent over the previous allocations.

In conclusion, the RFP for the procurement of 156 LCHs is a significant step towards achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing. It not only strengthens India's defence capabilities but also boosts the 'Make in India' initiative, thereby contributing to the country's economic growth and development. The move also underlines the positive outlook for the defence sector, with rising order books and increased investment in indigenous production. This development is a testament to the Indian government's commitment to bolstering the country's defence infrastructure and enhancing national security.