NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said India cannot depend on foreign governments and overseas suppliers to meet its requirement of military platforms, and self-reliance in the defence sector is far more crucial than any other field.
Singh made the comments after launching a number of new products brought out by several defence public sector undertakings and the Ordnance Factory Board.
"Security is its first priority for the development of any nation. It is known to all of us that the nations, which are able to protect themselves, they have been able to build their strong image at the global level," Singh said.
"We cannot depend on foreign governments, foreign suppliers and foreign defence products to meet our defence needs. It is not compatible with the objectives and feelings of a strong and Atmanirbhar Bharat'," he added.
In a mega push to boost domestic defence production, Singh on Sunday announced that India will stop import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems under a staggered timeline running into 2024.
India is one the largest importers of arms globally.
According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years.
"We should not only be able to ensure the fulfilment of our national interests but also be able to help other people in times of need. Self-reliance in the defence sector is far more crucial than any other field," Singh said.
The decision to prune the import list of weapons systems under a year-wise schedule was first announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May while rolling out reform measures for the defence manufacturing sector that included increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route.
The defence ministry has set a goal of a turnover of USD 25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years that included an export target of USD 5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.