Hyderabad: Indian aerospace and defence companies should build capabilities in design, development, production and testing of products and systems to be part of the global supply chain to tap exports as well as achieve self-reliance in order to bring down the imports in the sector. There is a need to develop a niche and advanced defence technologies to stay competitive, said a top defence official.
“Prime Minister is pushing for self-reliance in the defence sector across design, development, manufacturing and testing of products. India has come a long way with improvement in the overall ecosystem. There are 2,000 companies in India which are able to develop and manufacture systems and sub-systems while there are 10,000 companies in the component development, evolved in the last 10-15 years,” Dr G Satheesh Reddy, secretary, Department of Defence and Chairman of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said.
Speaking at the fourth edition of Telangana Defence Conclave on Wednesday, he said, India today has achieved self-reliance in the areas such as missiles, radars, sonars, torpedos, electronic warfare systems, airborne early warning and control, and communication systems.
“There is however need to improve capabilities and self-reliance in areas such as aircraft engines. Clusters such as Hyderabad and Bengaluru have done well in the sector and can contribute towards filling the current market gaps,” Reddy added.
Several private companies are taking part in the system and sub-system development in the missile space, playing a key role in Brahmos and Akash missiles, contributing about 85-87% of the system and sub-system requirements, in value terms.
Highlighting the need to bring the private sector into large system development, where historically collaborations were only done with defence PSUs, the DRDO chairman said, “DRDO has initiated efforts in this direction. We have rolled out an initiative by bringing private companies as ‘development cum production partner (DCPP)’. We have begun the implementation. In Hyderabad, the labs have already come out with 2-3 tenders to integrate the missile sub-parts.”
DRDO is also reducing the overall time of trials through the integration of development and user trials to speed up product development.
Dr Reddy said defence corridors and clusters should develop adequate testing facilities which could be developed in the PPP (public-private-partnership) model. The Government of India can back such initiatives financially. DRDO from its side is already allowing the industry to use its testing facilities.
The industry should up efforts in research and development as the government is supporting that with due incentives. “What activity industry will do, DRDO will not do,” he added.
India still imports a lot of spare parts for aircraft and there is a need for indigenisation in this space. The way India has become self-reliant in radars, efforts should be made in other areas as well.
On the exports front, he said, Indian industry should compete with global companies by developing niche and advanced technologies. There is also a need to step up efforts in the area of developing a successful marketing strategy, by identifying where the potential markets exist and what systems are in demand and market systems accordingly.
There will be opportunities for the private industry to take part in future missile programmes such as Astra in its second phase, so in the coming years, companies in Telangana and other States should gear up.