Foreign Collaboration, Imports to Continue as Make Projects Fail To Take Off
The ambitious programmes for designing development and manufacturing of major platforms and systems in India seems to have failed to take off indicating that reliance on foreign collaborations through the Strategic Partnership programmes and imports remain the key options for the Indian armed forces in the future.
Replying to a question Raksha Rajya Mantri Shri Shripad Naik responded to Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore in Lok Sabha indicated the status of ‘Make’ programmes taken up by Ministry of Defence for Battlefield Management Systems (BMS), Tactical Communication Systems (TCS), Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV).
The Battlefield Management Systems (BMS) has been scrapped in November, 2018 on recommendations of the Indian Army due to re-prioritisation.
Tactical Communication Systems (TCS) the second Make programme is now being progressed with two Development Agencies (DAs) shortlisted for prototype development.
The other ambitious Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) is under consideration with the DAs could not be shortlisted as the financial and technical criteria were found to be subjective in selection process.
There was no mention of another ambitious Make project – Future Ready Combat Vehicle (FRCV). The FRCV is expected to be modular and compact to enable strategic, operational and battlefield mobility, as also facilitate up-gradation, easy replacement/ repair of assemblies and production of variants but the proposal appears to have not evoked much interest from the industry, even as the Indian Army has ordered over 450 T 90 S tanks from the Russian stable.
The strategic partnership (SP) model envisages collaboration between and Indian and a foreign defence major for joint manufacturing (not necessarily development) of major platforms such as in Group I segments, a) Aircraft (b) Helicopters (c) Aero Engines (d) Submarines (e) Warships (f) Guns (including artillery guns) (g) Armoured vehicles including tanks.
While Group II Segments include (a) Metallic material and alloys (b) Non-metallic material (including composites and polymers) (c) Ammunition including smart ammunition
Naval Utility Helicopters and submarines are the two major programmes under consideration for strategic partnership.
Evidently with slow progress in the Make programmes dependence on collaboration through the SP model or direct imports remains a key option that will extend India’s dependence on foreign made platforms for decades.