In line with its efforts to ramp up indigenisation of defence equipment in India and increase defence exports, the Modi government has been initiating a series of measures over the past few months. These include granting licences to Indian companies to make artillery guns, armoured fighting vehicles, warships, military aircraft, UAVs and radars in India and easing norms for exports.
The success on the export front is evident from the numbers provided by the government on 11 December, 2015. While the full year exports stood at Rs 686.27 crore in 2013-14, the figure for the first half of the current fiscal was Rs 695.70 crore.
The countries to which India exported defence equipment include Germany, Israel, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar, Russia, Oman, Switzerland, the US, Turkey and the UAE, according to a defence ministry statement issued in July this year.
Aligning defence indigenisation programme with the "Make in India" initiative launched in September last year, the BJP-led NDA government has granted 81 industrial licences to 61 companies till October 2015 for manufacturing defence equipment.
The latest in the series is the decision to open up defence facilities to private companies to conduct tests and trial runs for defence equipment, which were hitherto being sent abroad for certification, entailing huge costs.
Now, labs and military ranges belonging to HAL, DRDO, army, navy and air force will be available for private defence equipment manufacturers, for which the government has issued standard operating procedure (SOP).
"There is no precedence of private sector entities utilising IAF facilities for testing their equipment... would boost the indigenous aviation defence industry thereby reducing dependence on foreign suppliers," says an air force note on the new policy accessed by The Economic Times.
The companies that have received licences for defence manufacture include Reliance Aerospace Technologies, Mahindra Telephonics Integrated Systems, Ashok Leyland Defence Systems, Pipavav Defence % Offshore Engineering Company, Tata Advanced Material, Bharat Forge, Titagarh Wagons, Tech Mahindra, Tata Motors and Taneja Aerospace and Aviation.
A few days ago, Indian Institute of Science won a $52,900 contract from the US military to develop solar powered micro-grid with battery and super capacitor energy storage system. It was awarded by the US Pacific Air Forces, Yokota Air Base in Japan.
A few days ago, India's Tata Group was reported to be gearing up for India's Future Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme worth about $15 billion. The Indian Army proposes to buy about 2,600 FICVs to replace its ageing fleet of Soviet-era BMP-1s and BMP-2s, IHS Jane's Defence Weekly had reported.
The need to indigenise defence equipment to cut down imports was stressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Aero Show in Bangalore early this year.
"We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment in the world. That may be music to the ears of some of you here. But this is one area where we would not like to be number one," he had said, adding, "We are reforming our defence procurement policies and there will be a clear preference for the equipment manufactured in India."