|  |  | 

India Top Headlines

Government presents draft defense production policy to promote indigenous weapons and exports | India News

NEW DELHI: Languishing itself in the strategically vulnerable position of being among the world’s top three arms importers for years, India now wants to build a major defense industrial base (DIB) for self-sufficiency in weapons systems and exports to other countries within the next five years
The Ministry of Defense published on Monday a draft policy for the production of defense and export promotion (DPEPP 2020), with the declared objective of achieving a turnover of Rs 1.75,000 Crores ($ 25 billion), including the export of Rs 35,000 Crore ($ 5 billion) in defense and aerospace goods and services by 2025.
A similar draft policy in 2018 had set similar goals, but not much came out of that. The estimated size of the existing Indian defense industry is around Rs 80,000 crore, with a public sector contribution of almost 80%.
There is no way to get away from the fact that India desperately needs to strengthen its fledgling IBD by making the private sector jump into defense production in a major way.
The public sector, which includes DRDO and its 50 laboratories, four defense shipyards, five defense PSUs, and 41 artifact factories, must also be drastically overhauled to deliver cutting-edge weapon systems without heavy time and cost.
The ongoing military confrontation with China has only served to further push this point, with the strong 15-lakh armed forces struggling to import a wide range of weapons systems, from drones and assault rifles to missiles and ammunition, to maintaining the operational readiness along the northern borders
But whether the stated goals of the draft DPEPP 2020, which is seen as a “blueprint to provide focused, structured and meaningful momentum to defense production capabilities,” can be achieved in five years yet to be seen.
The draft DPEPP says the goal is to reduce dependency on imports and take “Make in India” initiatives forward through national design and development, as well as promoting the export of defense products as part of overall policy ‘ Atmanirbhar Bharat ‘.
DRDO, for example, will establish missions in selected fields in consultation with the military and other scientific and industrial establishments to develop futuristic weapon systems.
These range from hypersonic, ballistic, and cruise missiles to armored vehicles, gas turbine engines, submarines, fifth-generation fighter jets, transport planes, robotics, and aerial sensors.
The draft policy presents multiple strategies with focus areas such as procurement reforms; indigenization and support to MSMEs / Startups; optimization of resource allocation; investment promotion, FDI and ease of doing business; innovation and R&D; DPSU and ammunition factories; quality assurance and testing infrastructure; and export promotion.
The policy comes after the government in May made it clear that the military will have to relinquish its penchant for exorbitant foreign weapons systems unless they can be manufactured in India through joint ventures with global weapons and older aviation.
The government had also announced that the importation of certain weapons would be prohibited through a progressively expanding negative list, while the FDI limit would increase to 74% from the 49% existing in the defense production sector through the route of automatic dispatch.
With an annual defense budget of approximately $ 70 billion, India is only behind the United States ($ 732 billion) and China ($ 261 billion) in terms of military spending worldwide. It is also the world’s second largest buyer of foreign weapons after Saudi Arabia, accounting for 9.2% of total global arms imports during 2015-2019, as previously reported by TOI.

Times of India