NEW DELHI: Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes for the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the country’s defence industry is yet to make it count, at least when it comes to developing the armoury.
The country’s premier defence research agency, DRDO, which is tasked to develop indigenous military hardware, is still dependent on imported components. Thus, the question on the authenticity of ‘indigenous’ armoury remains. Despite the government spending crores over three decades, the country’s first indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA)—Tejas—still has nearly half of its components imported. Even the engine comes from the US. Besides the engine (GE F 404), ejection seat (Martin Baker), missile (R 73 E) and the multi-mode radar (Elta) are among the prominent import contents in Tejas. Only the control system and airframe are indigenous.
Not just Tejas, DRDO scientists still depend on foreign suppliers for over 35 per cent of their requirement to manufacture Combat Free Fall System for Special Forces troops. Combat Free Fall System consists of Parachute system, life support system for oxygen supply, protective clothing, and equipment. They also comprise jumpsuit, communication helmet, gloves, boots, goggles and jack knife.
New Delhi: It seems the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ push doesn’t apply to the country’s defence manufacturing. The story is nothing different for the indigenous Arjun main battle tank. Sanctioned in May 1974, 55 per cent of the tank is still made of imported elements, and the fire control system has been developed by Elbit Systems in Israel.
Though DRDO claimed to have developed military hardware inducted into services or in the process of induction to the tune of `1,90,000 crore, the key missiles systems and airborne early warning and control systems still has a majority of foreign components, despite being called ‘indigenous’.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in his written reply in Parliament has listed the percentage of import content in some of the major DRDO systems, which has exposed the tall claims of the defence research agency. The list includes its Nag Missile, which has 35 per cent imported material, BrahMos has 65 per cent and Long Range Surface to Air Missile has 60 per cent. Nag-Anti tank missile had recently failed in the trials.
CAG of India had stated that 70 per cent of the products that DRDO produces are rejected by the armed forces. Others are delayed for decades. India continues to be the on the list of the largest arms importers of the world, accounting to 14 per cent of global arms imports.
PM Modi has been emphasising on self-reliance for the defence sector, and the PMO is asking for monthly reports on status and trials from all project directors.
In his first interaction with DRDO scientists in August 2014, Modi had sent out a strong message by flaying the ‘chalta hai’ attitude of defence scientists and asked them to complete the projects before time to put India ahead.
Desi Dilemma of Defence
- Import content in some major DRDO systems.System
- Agni Missile 15
- Prithvi Missile 15
- Akash Missile 10
- Nag Missile 30
- Supersonic Cruise Missile, BrahMos 65
- Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) 60
- Multi Barrel Rocket System-Pinaka 10
- Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) System (excluding Aircraft) 16
- Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA), Lakshya 5-7
- Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV), Nishant 10
- Roentegnometer 6
- Aircraft Arrester Barrier 5
- Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) 40
- NBC Recce Vehicle 5
- Combat Free Fall System 35
- Heavy Drop System 10
- MBT Arjun 55
- Radars 10
- Electronic Warfare Systems 5-30
- Sonars 5-30
- Pocket Dosimeter 12
- Portable Dose Rate Meter 9