Healthy mix of local endeavours & foreign collaboration is the bedrock of India's journey of self-reliance: Defence Minister
The Indian government has been dynamic in its push toward making India self-reliant across sectors. The defence sector has been at the forefront, consistently progressing on the path to "Atmanirbharta" in making India a global defence-manufacturing hub.
In an additional step towards that, a two-day international conference focusing only on ammunitions, Ammo India 2022, was held from July 27- July 28, 2022. The conference was inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. This came right after the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for Capital Acquisition Proposals of the Armed Forces amounting to 28,732 crores during a meeting under the Chairmanship of the Defence Minister on July 26, 2022. During the conference, the Defence Minister also inaugurated a small exhibition showcasing products developed by the Indian Navy, Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), and the private sector, and released a 'Knowledge Paper' at the conference.
Weapons and ammunition reflect a nation's scientific & technological as well as economic development: Defence Minister
"Scientific & technological as well as the economic development of a nation is reflected in the capacity of its weapons and ammunition. The development of ammunition is crucial not only for security but also for the socio-economic progress of the country. For India to become a world power and one of the leading countries in defence production, we must move forward in the indigenous design, development & production of ammunition," said the Defence Minister.
According to the insights shared by Market Research, a business analytics company, the ammunition manufacturing market in India was valued at INR 846.67 billion in FY 2021, up from INR 738 billion in FY 2017, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 3.49 per cent. The ammunition manufacturing market in India is expected to present significant opportunities for Indian as well as foreign companies, throughout the supply chain. Alongside the initiatives from the government, many private sector companies are showing an interest in ammunition production and collaborating with the government to make strategic investments in technologies such as advanced materials, stealth technologies, avionics, sensors, and cybersecurity. This conference was an additional proof of the same. However, as of now, very few companies are a part of this market and there is space for more competition for the sector's growth.
The Defence Minister further nudged the public & private sectors, research & development establishments, start-ups, academia, and individual innovators to explore newer avenues in order to create a base that caters to the needs of the Armed Forces, ensuring their enhanced preparedness. Talking specifically about ammunitions, the Minister also emphasised the importance of precision-guided ammunition, saying that it will play a major role in future warfare, equal to weapons/platforms due to its constantly-evolving nature. "The employment of precision-guided ammunition at 'Muntho Dhalo' base played an important role in India's victory in the 1999 Kargil war. Precision strike of ammunition during 2019 strikes on terror camps in Balakot also ensured our success in the operation. Ammunition in modern battlefields is emerging in its new avatar, which once programmed can automatically take inputs, make course corrections and target the appropriate location at the right time. Earlier, only the size and explosive capacity of bombs mattered, but now their smartness is equally important," he said. As opposed to traditional ammunition, precision ammunition will selectively target the enemy base and not any civil establishments, he added.
During the conference, the Defence Minister also inaugurated a small exhibition showcasing products developed by the Indian Navy, Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), and the private sector.
The Defence Minister reiterated the Government's commitment to achieving 'Atmanirbharta in Defence' and ensured all efforts to empower the domestic industry in order to equip the Armed Forces with home-grown world-class weapons/systems, crucial for bolstering national security. He pointed out that the three positive indigenisation lists notified by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) clearly indicate the Government's emphasis on indigenous manufacturing of ammunition. These are three 'Positive Indigenisation lists' of total 310 items of services and two Positive Indigenisation lists of total 2958 items of DPSUs for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timelines indicated against them as highlighted by the Ministry.
"Be it Guided Extended Range rockets for Pinaka, Advanced Light Weight Torpedo, Anti-Radiation Missiles, or Loitering Munition, there are 43 such items in the third list. This reflects our commitment to achieve self-reliance in the field and indicates our confidence in the research, development, and manufacturing prowess of the domestic defence industry. These lists of existing weapon systems and ammunition will encourage our industry to take up new challenges and ensure their progress," he said. Singh appreciated the fact that six of the seven new defence companies, which were carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board, have reported profit within six months of their inception. Munitions India Limited has received export orders worth 500 crore, he said, terming the achievement as an indicator of the huge potential of the ammunition industry in the country.
Since the opening up of Defence sector in 2001, a total of 584 Industrial Licenses have been issued to 358 companies for manufacturing various defence items. Highlighting the same, the Defence Minister listed many other reforms taken by (MoD), including earmarking 68 per cent of the capital acquisition budget for the domestic industry in 2022-23 and allocating 25 per cent of the domestic capital procurement budget for promotion of private industry, MSMEs and start-ups. He also shed light on the policy which allows DRDO-Industry Special Purpose Vehicle to develop essential advanced defence products. "The Government fully understands the role of MSMEs and start-ups in the defence sector, therefore, the scope of Defence Innovation Start-Up Challenges and Technology Development Fund has been expanded to create more opportunities for them," he added.
This came right after the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for Capital Acquisition Proposals of the Armed Forces amounting to 28,732 crores.
Rajnath Singh maintained that while MOD is focusing on achieving self-reliance, it is encouraging foreign original equipment manufacturers to invest, manufacture, and export from India, in line with 'Make in India, Make for the World'. "India ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of military spending, which makes it one of the most attractive markets for defence. We believe in having a healthy mix of local endeavours and foreign collaboration in this journey of self-reliance," he said.
According to a release shared by MOD, India's Military spending for the year 2021 is ranked as the third highest in the world after US & China. During 2017-21, the percentage of Foreign Procurement (both Revenue and Capital) made for the purchase of Stores/ Defence Equipment has been in the range of 33.97 per cent - 41.60 per cent. The share of domestic procurement in total procurement has been on an uptrend. In 2018-19, domestic procurement stood at 54 per cent of the total procurement, this figure jumped to 59 per cent in 2019-20 and to 64 per cent in 2020-21. This year it is targeted to further increase the share of domestic procurement to 68 per cent. The Government has also approved a Scheme with an outlay of 498.78 crores (2021-22 to 2025-26) to push innovation and support start-ups in Defence & Aerospace sectors.
Ammo India 2022, jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS), provided a unique platform for all stakeholders i.e. industry, users, DRDO, and academia to meet and work towards achieving self-reliance in Ammunition manufacturing and moving towards 'Atmanirbhar' in the defence sector.