In what could be seen as proof of the Narendra Modi government’s approach to boost the country’s defense manufacturing capability, the Indian Defense Ministry cleared equipment worth $38.6 billion developed by state-owned Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) since Modi took charge.
The products developed by DRDO get the nod of the top decision-making body of the defense ministry on a priority basis which increased the production value of such equipment by 60% in the last three years. DRDO-developed products such as Tejas fighters, airborne early warning and control system (AEW&C), Akash weapon system, Sonar systems and Varunastra torpedo have been inducted into the armed forces over the last three years.
“The production value of DRDO-developed products, cleared by the Defense Acquisition Council, has grown by 60 percent in the last three years to approximately $38.6 billion from nearly $24 billion. The export potential of DRDO-developed systems has also increased manifold and this year export of torpedo stands at $37.9 million,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
In the last three years, India imported defense products worth $160 billion — $50 billion in 2014, $51.3 billion in 2015 and $55.9 billion in 2016 — according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
India, however, successfully inducted a number of DRDO-developed weapon systems, platforms, dual-use equipment in the Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces. “Bharani weapons locating radar, nuclear biological chemical recce vehicle, Agni-V, long range surface to air missile, medium range surface to air missile, NAG, advanced towed array gun, wheeled armored platform, Rustom-II Male Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, etc.,” the DRDO said in a statement.
In the last financial year, India exported the indigenously developed Varunastra heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo to Myanmar and is in an advanced stage to export to Vietnam as well.
The Narendra Modi government had launched ‘Make in India’ program to boost defense manufacturing, aimed at lessening imported products for the armed forces. It did not succeed in attracting foreign direct investment till now but a sustained approach to give priority to local-made products provides a moral boost to private defense sector firms. The recently announced strategic partnership policy will further boost defense business of private companies in the coming years.