Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister of India, addressing a section of the media on the sidelines of DefExpo-16 chalked out India’s future export plans. Parrikar expressed India’s willingness to export the indigenously developed Akash SAM systems, BrahMos cruise missiles and the LCA Tejas fighter aircraft. This move is a major morale booster to the maturing Indian defence industry.
Current status of India’s defence manufacturing industry!!!
India today has indigenously developed several weaponry systems to meet the requirements of its armed forces. The Indian defence industry has witnessed a spiralling growth in the recent past. India has made a mark in the world defence industry. It is only the sixth nation to have developed a fully operational SSBN submarine. India was the first nation in the Asia region to indigenously design and develop a fighter aircraft. It also has developed one of the best missile technologies in the world.
DRDO, India’s premier defence research and development agency has been working relentlessly to make India self reliant. DRDO’s mission has been augmented by state-run PSU’s and private industries. The ‘Make in India’ initiative launched by the NDA government has started paying dividends. Leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)’s are now flocking to set-up manufacturing bases in India. India is emerging as one of the fastest growing industrial base in the world.
The Indian defence industry making use of its current manufacturing bases has exported over Rs 2000 crore worth military solutions in the last fiscal year. India’s customer base mainly comprises of nations in the Asia-Pacific region. India has also significantly made its mark in the Western market.
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region look upon India to meet their demands and also as a key security partner. Nations like Vietnam, Seychelles, Mauritius and various African countries are dependent on India. Taking note of this booming demand the defence ministry has taken a slew of measures to export the latest weaponry systems to these nations. The offers to export Tejas, BrahMos and Akash systems are laid down under this line.
BrahMos Cruise Missiles
Travelling at speeds up to Mach 2-3, BrahMos is the fastest cruise missile system in the world. The missile system was jointly developed by Indian and Russian industries under a Joint Venture (JV). BrahMos is the only supersonic cruise missile in service and can reduce the response of the enemies by almost 1/4th.
India is a major stake holder in the JV and has significantly contributed to the program. All frontline battleships of the Indian navy are fitted out with this deadly Anti Shipping Cruise Missile (AShM). The Indian Army operates 2 regiments of the BrahMos missile in its land-land configuration. Works are underway to enable the BrahMos cruise missile to be fired from aircraft and submarines in the future.
Cruise missiles mainly in the Anti-Shipping Missile (AShM) configuration are the need of the hour for naval nations present along the Asia-Pacific belt. Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Malaysia are in tight contention with the PLAN in the South China Sea region as the deployment of surface combatants and submarines are on an all time high. The addition of a lethal cruise missile like BrahMos will add credible fighting teeth to the capabilities of these naval nations.
A flagship product of the Indian defence industry is the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) designed and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built LCA Tejas. The fourth generation fighter aircraft was developed under India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program as a replacement to the aging MiG-21 aircraft. The development of the fighter aircraft started in the late 90’s and the aircraft took to skies on January 4, 2001.
The aircraft over the years has evolved to be one of the best fighter aircraft in the world. Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the Tejas aircraft on January 17, 2015. The aircraft has successfully attained two of its three planned air worthiness certificates. The aircraft is now majestically throttling towards the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) phase. The aircraft is expected to be available for active duty by mid-2016.
Manohar Parrikar was all praises to the single engine powered LCA Tejas. Commenting about the aircraft’s performance and technologies the minister was quoted saying “The fly-by-wire system of Tejas is one of the best in the world. The manoeuvrability of the platform is excellent. It is the best aircraft totally developed in India”. The aircraft has been in the spotlight ever since its stellar performance at Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) – 16. T Suvarna Raju, Chairman of HAL, talking about the export prospects was quoted saying “We have got inquiries for LCA already” When asked to revel further about the inquiries he said “Believe us when I say there are inquiries for LCA.”
South-Asian countries had shown immense interest in the aircraft. Tejas is a highly reliable yet affordable aircraft and can be the perfect solution for maturing air forces. African countries are on the look-out for light fighter aircraft to counter militants in the region. Tejas is a multi-role fighter aircraft that can perform flawlessly in air-ground missions and also supplement for surveillance and reconnaissance roles. The fighter will be available with an array of air-air missiles and can effectively shot down aerial targets. The aircraft if opened up for export will undoubtedly be one of the most after sought light combat aircraft.
Akash Surface-to-Air Missile
The Akash SAM system is an all weather, medium range surface-air missile that can guard vital installations against aerial threats. A single Akash SAM battery can effectively engage multiple fighter aircraft, helicopters, UAVs and even cruise missiles. The missile system is highly accurate, reliable and robust in its operation. Unique to the Akash SAM system is its multi-target engagement capability.
Akash SAM system was developed as part of India’s ambitious IGMDP program. The SAM system has a range of 25 kilometres. Powered by a solid RAM propulsion engine the SAM system can attain speeds up to Mach 2. The on-board guidance and computational systems make it one of the most advanced and accurate SAM systems in service. All these superior and critical technologies were indigenously developed by DRDO and PSU’s.
These SAM systems are crucial for maintaining the sanity of air spaces. Various South Asian countries have shown their intent in operating the Akash SAM system. Countries like Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos have for long been troubled by the Chinese. The massive build-up of the PLAAF (Chinese Air Force) in the region has been a key concern for these countries. Akash SAM system is a supersonic interdictory system can hence effectively neutralize any aerial threats. The Akash SAM system will serve as a force multiplier for these nations.
Apart from these systems Indian firms are also engaged in exporting advanced naval platforms. India till date has successfully developed and built Fast Patrol Vessels and Interdictory vessels to Seychelles and Mauritius. Vietnam is in talks with GRSE for importing the P15B corvettes in the near future. The export prospects for the Indian defence industry are huge and promise to revolutionise the manufacturing activities in India.