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Making India’s Multilateral Defence Industry Outreach Work

Published Nov 07, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

Simplifying the Defence Procurement Procedure for competitive bidding and G to G joint development seems to be way ahead.

Indian Minister of Defence Mr Rajnath Singh has been on a spree of interactions with foreign envoys and defence industrialists in the past couple of months with a view to increase investments both in terms of foreign funding, investments and technologies in the Indian defence industry.

He has travelled from South Korea to France to Uzbekistan and now Russia holding meetings with defence industry majors inviting them to invest in the Indian defence industry.

In the interim he also held an expansive meeting with the Envoys of foreign missions.

A meeting has also been held with defence attaches of foreign missions posted in India.

Meanwhile India and the United States held Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) meet in October.

Seven projects were approved for joint development. Three near-term projects — air launch small unmanned aerial systems, lightweight small arms technology and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance or ISTAR. Two mid-term projects — maritime domain awareness (MDA) solutions and “virtual augmented reality solutions for aircraft maintenance (VAMRAM)”. 

The “long-term” projects include “terrain-shaping obstacles” (lethal munitions) and anti- drone technology called “counter-UAS rocket, artillery and mortar systems”.

The attempt by the Defence Minister could be with the intention of attracting more foreign companies to participate in the DefExpo 2019.

At the same time the larger game plan is to provide an impetus to building a collaborative indigenous – foreign defence industrial base in the country.

In the competitive global defence industry, India provides an excellent opportunity to large companies who are vying for a share of the big pie in combat aircraft, ships, submarines and rifles et al required by the Indian armed forces.

India is also seen as the single largest defence market for arms exports which has long term potential given slow process of indigenisation in the Indian Research and Development and Industry.

Never the less as is evident from the Rafale case for a competitive bidding process to work in the civil and military bureaucracy of the Indian procurement procedure a substantial review of the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 (DPP 2016) would be necessary.

Such a review has been ordered and Mr Apurva Chandra Director General (Acquisition) and Additional Secretary is heading the board, the contours of review will determine potential of the procedure to facilitate timely procurement.

G to G or Government to Government contracts appear to be a more viable and doable option for India to engage with a number of diverse partners to seek investments and technologies.

Building these bilateral silos to create indigenous defence industry may be the best case for now.

The primary challenge however is to convert the collaborative network into a full-fledged Indian defence industry base which is indigenous in R & D and manufacturing.

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