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A landscape for defence exports

India’s defence export chances brighten as many countries turn away from China. But the big question is: Are we ready to take advantage of this situation?




A bird’s eye view indicates conflict zones are in Africa, Middle East, West Asia, South Asia and the South China Sea. Major defence spenders will also be in this region. India is central to these zones. Recent Chinese aggression and assertion has driven up security stakes for nations. The In- do-Pacific region has shot into prominence. Many nations will now arm themselves as per the evolving paradigm. Nations which were dependent on China are looking for other options. An example is the submarine deal between China and Thailand which has been put on hold. It opens up space for India and gives it a unique opportunity to be a net defence exporter.

The question which arises: Is India prepared to be a major defence exporter? The draft ‘Defence Produc- tion & Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020’ was released recently. It aims to export Rs 35,000 Crore ($5 billion) in Aerospace and Defence goods and services by 2025. While the ambition is clear, there is no clarity on how to go about it. There is a need for a landscape for defence ex- porters to traverse. Essentially, there are two facets to defence exports. There is a major strategic opportunity. It is also an opportunity to earn revenue and build an indigenous self-sustain- ing and self-regulating de- fence industry.

The Strategic Opportunity

Our current military stand against China is already enhancing India’s reputation. Defence exports will establish us a regional power of consequence. Resultantly, there are two sub-themes which emanate. One is exports to secure our immediate neighbourhood and the second is to spread our influence beyond.

Neighbourhood Opportunity: There is no denying that China has made major insidious moves in our immediate neighbourhood. Besides Pakistan, other neighbours are also equipped with Chinese weapons. These include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Myanmar. Nepal will soon follow. A senior Sri Lankan officer once mentioned that China and Pakistan gained space since India refused to arm the country during the LTTE days. Context understood. Time to reset the equation. The officer also added that Sri Lanka would prefer weapons, equipment and training from India to re- build ties. A similar story exists with other neighbours also. Hence our diplomacy and export policy should ensure that all our neighbours are armed with our weapons and look to- wards us for their security requirements. Building defence related dependencies in our neighbourhood will enhance our security even if we have to give them some equipment in gratis. In a ‘Walk the Talk’ show Shekar Gupta asked two Afghani Cricketers as to which country they would like to defeat always. Pat came the answer — Pakistan. Taliban or no Taliban, there is a need for a pragmatic approach.

Regional Opportunities: Regionally, opportunities abound for defence exports in the West Asian conflict cauldron and the tension zones of South China Sea. Countries will increase their defence expenditures. Having inter- acted with some reasonably senior armed forces personnel of these countries I am confident that they are more comfortable with India as a defence supplier. The strength of our historical linkages, culture, soft power, economy and hard power are attractive. I was doing an international course in the US a decade back. Whenever there was a discussion on any issue in which I expressed an opinion there was backing and acknowledgement from officers from countries as diverse as Qatar, Egypt, Yemen, Taiwan and Philippines. If we take a step forward on defence and security exports, we will reap dividends. India can be the true regional power of reckoning. However, some deep thinking and diplomatic input will be required since we should be careful about whom to arm with what. The standard MoD approach will not suffice.

Defence exports: A triad

Defence exports must be based on a long-term triad. The triad consists of weapons & equipment, services and training. Export can be of new weapons and equipment or refurbishing of existing/obsolescent equipment — either of that country or from our inventory. Many countries cannot afford new equipment and hence would prefer the re- furbishment route which suits their pockets and defence requirements. Refurbishment can be under- taken by government and/ or Private players. For example, many old guns will be available with sufficient spares once new 155mm systems are inducted. They are prime candidates for export. However, all weapons need ammunition.

That will be a perennial demand. Services could pertain to maintenance of equipment or building infrastructure. Spares and maintenance are long term earners. It goes hand in hand with weapon export. It needs long term thinking and commitment with major flexibilities. The third component of the triad is military training. It is the soft component force multiplier. Training is our great strength. Defence export and training must be combined to create long-term dependencies and alliances. Military Training alters behaviours and conditions the way people think. However, our current capacities are limited and will not be able to meet the train- ing needs of many countries. Before we embark on weapons export, expansion of our training capacities is warranted. Resultantly, deep integration of Services in this enterprise is mandatory. If that does not happen — forget exports.

Requisites for Defence Export

Requisites for Defence Export Architecture: Defence exports must take place under a well thought out architecture and organisation. It must integrate and be driven by all stakeholders. At the government level, it is visualised that the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs and Home will have to lay down the major policy directions based on our national interests. At the MOD level, the stakeholders must be the MOD, DDP, Service HQs and any nominated Industry body. DDP can be the nodal department but it cannot row this boat with just an export cell. Defence exports need an elaborate organisation and flexibilities. The Foreign Military Sales organisation of the US and the export architecture of Rosoboron Exports of Russia are good models. Even the ONGC Videsh could serve as a reasonable model. Exports should take place strictly under this architecture lest everyone pulls in different directions. Industry (Pub- lic or Private) should not be allowed to run around like mavericks and start peddling their equipment to other countries. The ramifications could be loss of national credibility. This point is specifically being made since the major constituents of the DDP viz
OFB and DPSUs have narrow visions, one-dimensional views and tend to be self-serving. They must be made to look beyond themselves. Additionally, the organisation must be apart from the MoD with a degree of autonomy and permanence. Develop- ing defence exports is also about developing long term institutional or personal linkages and equations.

Requirement Analysis:An analysis needs to be done to establish defence requirements of various countries that are on our export radar. We need a strategy to edge out competition. The Government should also be prepared for collaborative efforts in Research, Developments and Production. Such effort will result in deeper linkages. A lot of groundwork is required.

Capacity Analysis: A careful capacity analysis and audit should take place. It cannot happen that we are exporting items which we are short of, like ammunition. Also, capacities should not be diverted for export at the cost of domestic utilisation. First fulfil own needs. Most importantly countries will not buy items unless they are in use in our Forces. We should have the capacity or retain capacities to produce and maintain the equipment being exported. This is especially important for older equipment.

Pricing Issues: Defence export markets are traditionally dominated by Westerners. Attractive pricing and presenting a value proposition is important to wean customers. Being centrally located, we have the advantage of saving on transportation costs (these are considerable). However Indian Public Defence Industry is terribly overpriced. Runaway and opaque pricing is the norm. This trend is known internationally. It cannot continue when we enter international markets. We will be priced out by experienced competitors. If we enter international markets competitively our pricing and financials must be right. The re-branding and name tag production exercise which some of our defence industry is quite adept at, cannot be replicated. We will be exposed as hollow.

Security Implications: The security implications of weapons and equipment to sell or export needs careful evaluation. We have a few technologies which we have mastered and can fetch handsome results. How- ever, on the flip side such technology cannot be exported without adequate checks and balance. In some cases, these technologies cannot even be thought of for export. For instance, we had an export request for the indigenous Swati Weapon Locating Radar (WLR) when I was in service. I turned it down simply because technologically this was equivalent to the latest mark of the ANT- PQ37 WLR. The US made us go through all hoops a decade and a half back be- fore they sold us an almost vintage mark of this radar. We can never part with such technology or equipment. Our adversaries will be devising methods to lay their hands on our latest weapon systems through third parties as and when exports open.

Volumes: Defence export volumes will be small, but the range will be diverse. This is simply because countries who might import from us will invariably have small security set ups and consequently their needs will be small. How- ever, once we establish a line of export for any product and develop a reputation there will be a rebound effect and volumes will grow. It will be a game of patience.

Quality: One critical issue is Quality. Our defence industry is notorious, notorious and notorious internationally – for poor quality. In fact, it does not have a sense of pride in the weapons and equipment it produces. What a shame. The lesser said the better. The private sector has a better record. Even in small items and spares there is contagion of poor quality. Reliability, Quality and Dependability are paramount in weapon systems. If this is not ensured exports will simply not fetch.

Missing Woods For Trees

The intent of the MoD to open export of Defence Equipment and Services is welcome and overdue. However, the strategic aspect is very important and should be grasped with both hands. While the intent is great, the threat will be delivery with Quality. Quality is the pitfall of our indigenous defence production system. The Services must play a huge part in defence exports. If any attempt is made without the Services on board, it will be a failure. The MoD organisation has been missing this wood for the trees for 70 years by keeping the Services out of the equation. Repeat the trick and there will be no exports. That I will guarantee today.

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is high- ly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on his blog www. gunnersshot.com.

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Ashish Singh



Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) – Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years. The budgetary support will provide a big boost to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as iDEX–DIO has the primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in defence & aerospace sector of the country. The creation of the iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes & academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D development which has good potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.

The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework. It will support increased awareness in the Indian innovation ecosystem about defence needs and, conversely, in the Indian Defence establishment about the potential of the Indian innovation eco-system to deliver innovative solutions to meet their needs. The DIO, with its team, will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian Defence production industry. The long-term effect to be realised by the group is the establishment of a culture, where enlisting the effort of innovators by the Indian military is commonplace and frequent. The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines; create a culture of engagement with innovative start-ups to encourage co-creation for defence and aerospace; empower a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation within the defence and aerospace sector and boost innovation among the start-ups and encourage them to be a part of the ecosystem.

The DDP will release funds to DIO for setting up and managing the iDEX network in the form of Partner Incubators (PIs); communicating with innovators/start-ups/technology centres of MSMEs through the PIs including the PIs of Department of Science and Technology regarding defence and aerospace needs; organising various challenges/hackathons to shortlist potential technologies and entities and evaluating technologies and products developed by innovators/start-ups in terms of their utility and impact on the defence and aerospace setup. The other activities include enabling and funding pilots using innovation funds dedicated to the purpose; interfacing with the Armed Forces top brass about key innovative technologies and encouraging their adoption into the defence establishment with suitable assistance; facilitating scale-up, indigenisation and integration in manufacturing facilities for successfully piloted technologies and organising outreach activities all across the country.

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Ashish Singh



The passing out parade of the cadets of the Technical Entry Scheme—37 Course at the Cadets Training Wing, College of Military Engineering (CME) at Pune—was held on Saturday. The parade was reviewed by Lt Gen PP Malhotra, Commandant CME. Thirty-three Gentlemen Cadets of the Course, including three gentlemen cadets from Bhutan and two from Sri Lanka, were commissioned as officers.

Though parents of the passing out course could not attend the ceremony owing to COVID related restrictions, the parade was streamed live on YouTube. Lt Gen PP Malhotra, presented several awards to Gentlemen Cadets for excellence in training. The parade conducted with traditional military regalia, was commanded by Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Chauhan. The coveted General Officer Commanding in Chief Army Training Command Gold Medal for standing first in overall performance in three years at CTW was awarded to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar. The Silver and Bronze Medal was awarded to Gentlemen Cadet Sonam Tshering from the Royal Bhutan Army and Wing Cadet Quarter Master Prince Kumar Singh respectively. Cadets of the Wing also had the distinction of being awarded the Commandant Officers Training Academy Silver medal to Wing Cadet Captain Abhishek Singh Chauhan and the Bronze Medal to Wing Cadet Adjutant Sahil Kumar for their meritorious performance in the combined four years of training, including one year at the Officers Training Academy, Gaya. Echo Platoon was awarded the General Officer Commanding in Chief’s Banner for performing exceedingly well in the Inter Platoon Competitions and emerging as the Champion Platoon.

Addressing the parade, the General Officer congratulated the Gentlemen Cadets for their superlative performance in the training period at the wing and their immaculate parade. Lt General PP Malhotra, highlighted that the cadets were at the cusp of a new beginning as young military leaders, and on their broad shoulders lay the future of our gallant Army. He urged the future officers to make their nation and the Alma Mater proud by rendering selfless and honourable service. He also stressed on imbibing strong moral values and ethics. The passing out parade was followed by a Commissioning and an oath taking ceremony for the newly commissioned officers.

College of Military Engineering has emerged as the finest technical institutions in the Indian Army. Recent forays of the College into Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Engineering Materials have been lauded by all. The college has entered into MoU with academic and industrial majors to absorb best engineering practices and infuse a culture of innovation in the Indian Army. Several projects from the College have been displayed and awarded in forums such as the iDEX4Fauji and the Army Day Parade, this year.

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Ashish Singh



NEW DELHI: In line with the PM’s vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Dr Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, inducted Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Mk-III in Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The state-of-the-art helicopters are indigenously designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bengaluru. The maiden ceremony was carried out through digital means, keeping Covid protocol at fore and promoting GoI’s vision of ‘Digital India’. Indian Coast Guard Director General K Natarajan, Mr R Madhavan, CMD, HAL and MoD officials were among those who attended the event. Dr Ajay Kumar in his address praised the perseverance of the ICG and M/s HAL by inducting these helicopters in testing times and progressing our Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’. He also brought out the importance of having these advanced helicopters for ICG to operate them across the spectrum of Coast Guard operations.

The ALH Mk-III marine version has been designed and developed with in-house customisation of 19 additional equipment by HAL to meet ICG requirements. HAL will supply 16 ALH Mk-III to the ICG by the mid of next year. The helicopter is capable of undertaking embarked operations from ships which will enhance Coast Guard capabilities towards Sea air co-ordinated search, interdiction capabilities, Coastal Security, Search and Rescue operations, medical evacuation,Humanitarian missions, Pollution response missions, etc. While appreciating ICG for the recently conducted successful operations of drugs & arms seizure and saving lives during cyclones Tauktae & YAAS, Defence Secretary said the capacity and capability augmentation of the service needs to be materialised in a time bound manner considering the onerous responsibilities bestowed on ICG by the GoI.

On induction, the 16 ALH Mk-III will be positioned at 4 Coast Guard squadrons at Bhubaneshwar, Porabandar, Kochi and Chennai. The shared maritime boundaries with littoral states are highly susceptible to illegal activities and the regions are prone to frequent cyclones.These squadrons with embarked operations will ensure seamless surveillance and provide assistance to fishermen in distress at sea. Director General K Natarajan while acknowledging the efforts of Tatrakshaks for recent concurrent successful operations said that ICG is as prepared as ever to discharge its duties and induction of ALH Mk-III will usher a new paradigm shift in our capability to undertake ship borne operations and enhance surveillance prowess with extended reach. He also brought out that these helicopters will be deployed in a coordinated matrix along with ships and aircraft to strengthen the service capabilities in Area of Responsibility and beyond. Speaking on the occasion, Mr R Madhavan said with this contract, HAL is embarking on a new journey of Performance Based Logistics (PBL). The PBL will assure desired levels of availability of ALH MKIII fleet of ICG for six and half years, a unique feature of this contract and a first of its kind in HAL. These helicopters are equipped with state of the art equipment like Surveillance Radar, Electro Optic Pod, Medical Intensive Care Unit, High Intensity Search Light, SAR Homer, Loud Hailer, Machine Gun and can perform other key roles. Helicopter MRO Division is the nodal agency for execution of PBL contract along with Engine Division and other Sister Divisions of HAL.


The PBL will provide a One Stop Solution for maintenance of complete Helicopter, Engine and components which encompasses Helicopter/Engine Servicing Task, Rotable Repair Task (RRT), Repair & Maintenance Spares Order (RMSO) etc. As part of PBL, Helicopter MRO Division of HAL will be extending the support from four bases viz. Bhubaneswar, Porbandar, Chennai and Kochi. All necessary infrastructure, repair facility etc are set up at Bhubaneswar and Porbandar, dedicated LRU/ Rotable floats are stocked and On-site support team is identified towards ensuring the availability of Helicopters. Chennai & Kochi are in the final stages. In addition, HAL Aviation Maintenance Software (HAMS), a web based online platform is developed and deployed by Helicopter MRO Division for real time monitoring and operational visibility of fleet through a dedicated leased line network.

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Ashish Singh



NEW DELHI: As part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, medical equipment and supplies worth Nepali Rupees 28.80 crore provided by the Indian Army were handed over to the Nepali Army on Friday. In a ceremony at Nepali Army Headquarters, Tundikhel today, the medical equipment was handed over by Ambassador Vinay Mohan Kwatra to General Purna Chandra Thapa, Chief of the Nepali Army. The ambassador reaffirmed India’s support to Nepali Army in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and lauded its contribution in this respect.

The medical equipment, including Ventilators, Ambulances, ICU beds, PPE Kits, PCR test Kits etc was delivered to Kathmandu on 10 June 2021. The Indian Army has been assisting the Nepali

Army to fight Covid-19 through various kinds of assistance since last year, including 1 Lakh doses of Covishield vaccines which were provided in March 2021.

The latest assistance is another testament to the close cooperation between the two armies and the two countries, particularly in times of need.

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Defence Minister inaugurates BRO centres

Ashish Singh



Defence Minister Rajnath Singh dedicated to the nation two Centres of Excellence established by Border Roads Organisation (BRO) at Seema Sadak Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. These Centres have been established to achieve excellence in road safety as well as foster growth in construction of roads, bridges, air fields and tunnels. The Centre of Excellence for Road Safety & Awareness (CoERSA) aims to create awareness about road safety through analysis sharing of road accidents and suggesting methods to save precious lives. The Centre of Excellence for Roads, Bridges, Air Fields and Tunnels (CoERBAT) focuses on institutionalising the knowledge gained over the years in development of almost 60,000 kilometres of roads, 56,000 metres of bridges, 19 airfields and four tunnels in the eastern and north-western part of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajnath Singh appreciated the efforts of BRO in establishing the Centres of Excellence, expressing confidence that they will play a pivotal role in saving precious lives. Terming road accidents as a silent pandemic that claims approx. 1.5 lakh lives every year, the Raksha Mantri stated that the Government has taken a number of initiatives such as National Road Safety Policy, Motor Vehicle Act 2020 and identification of black spots on national highways to tackle the problem and the setting up of these Centres is another step in that direction. The Raksha Mantri lauded the crucial role played by BRO in the progress of the nation since its inception by building roads, tunnels and other infrastructure in remote areas. He praised the efforts of BRO for working tirelessly in tough weather conditions to increase connectivity in border areas, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describing connectivity as an essential component of a nation’s progress, he said BRO is catering to the needs of the Armed Forces as well as working towards the socio-economic development of the border areas. He made special mention of the recent achievements of BRO, including state-of-the-art construction of ‘Atal Tunnel, Rohtang’, Kailash Mansarovar Road and Zojila pass. He also appreciated BRO for raising awareness about road safety through innovative slogans and signboards. Rajnath Singh also listed out various measures taken by the Government for the development of BRO. These include increase in the budget of BRO, approval of special high-altitude clothing for the personnel as well as cadre review to boost the morale of the organisation. He assured BRO of continued support of Ministry of Defence, saying that the Government remains committed to the progress of the far-flung areas of the country. He also remembered the BRO personnel who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.

During the event, the Raksha Mantri also launched four software developed to optimise the work efficiency of BRO personnel, their HR management, recruitment management, enrolment and works management. The BRO has created the software to reduce paperwork, with focus on minimising the carbon footprint. Rajnath Singh termed the development of the software as a great example of ‘Self-reliant India’ and ‘Digital India’ campaigns. He stated that the software will further improve the efficiency of the organisation, modernise it and save time. The first ever Solo Woman Motorcycle Expedition by Ms Kanchan Ugursandi to Umling La Pass, Ladakh and back was also flagged off on the occasion. The Raksha Mantri extended his best wishes to Ms Kanchan Ugursandi and expressed confidence that she will come out with flying colours and complete the task by setting new records.

Earlier, DG Border Roads Lt Gen Rajeev Chaudhry briefed Rajnath Singh on the initiatives and achievements of BRO in recent years. He informed the Raksha Mantri about the ongoing and future projects, with focus on AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also informed Raksha Mantri on the awareness campaigns being carried out by BRO related to COVID-19 and Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav in far-flung areas. The DG Border Roads said BRO remains committed towards serving the nation and would bring all necessary changes to enhance the efficiency of the organisation. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar were among the dignitaries present on the occasion.

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Ashish Singh



Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released an e-booklet titled ’20 Reforms in 2020’, highlighting the major reforms undertaken by Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2020, in New Delhi earlier this week. The compilation provides a brief overview of defence reforms undertaken in the year 2020 by MoD to bring about greater cohesion and modernisation of the Armed Forces through policy changes, innovation and digital transformation. Reforms also focused on the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi; increased collaboration with the industry to boost defence exports; measures to accelerate defence acquisitions with greater transparency; digital transformation; strengthening of border infrastructure; increased participation of women in Armed Forces; transformation in R&D to boost innovation; expansion of NCC to remote locations and aid extended to the civil administration in fight against Covid-19. Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Y Naik, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Ex-Servicemen Welfare) Mr. Ravikant, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Financial Advisor (Defence Services) Mr. Sanjiv Mittal were present on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, Rajnath Singh termed the E-booklet as an important document on the bright future of the defence sector in the country. “The booklet is a reflection of the resolve of the Government, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Modi, to make the defence sector stronger and more efficient,” he said. The Raksha Mantri expressed confidence that the reforms undertaken by MoD will make India a global powerhouse in the defence sector in the times to come.

20 REFORMS IN 2020

Chief of Defence Staff & Department of Military Affairs

The appointment of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and creation of Department of Military Affairs (DMA) were among the major decisions taken by the Government. The post of CDS was created to increase efficiency & coordination among the Armed Forces and reduce duplication, while DMA was established to ensure improved civil-military integration. General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS who also fulfils the responsibilities of Secretary, DMA.


To promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector, a list of 101 defence items was notified in August 2020, while Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 was unveiled in September 2020. Rs 52,000 crore budget was earmarked for indigenously made defence equipment in 2020-21. Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) was approved in May 2020 for greater efficiency and productivity. There was an unprecedented push towards new technology developments within India. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) developed a ventilator in record time to meet Covid-19 requirements in May 2020.In November 2020, Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile, indigenously designed & developed DRDO, hit bullseye at medium range and medium height, while indigenously built Pinaka rocket system cleared test of 45-60 km range.


The increased partnership with the private sector has led to a substantial rise in defence exports. The value of total defence exports rose from Rs 1,941 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 9,116 crore in 2019-20. Also, for the first time, India figured in the list of defence equipment exporting nations, as the exports expanded to more than 84 countries.


In highest-ever thrust towards modernisation in last 10 years, there was 10 per cent budget increase in 2020-21 over the previous year. Policy reforms for increased transparency included launch of new Defence Acquisition Procedure in September 2020 and revision of DRDO Procurement Manual in October 2020. To encourage start-ups, a provision was introduced for procurement as Buy Indian-IDDM, while leasing for non-mission critical requirements was introduced for the first time.


First five Rafale fighter aircraft arrived in India in July 2020 and several more since then, adding firepower to the arsenal of the Indian Air Force. Despite the COVID-19 challenge, the aircraft were delivered timely and inducted into IAF.


To promote innovation by young minds, five Young Scientists Laboratories of DRDO were launched in 2020 in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. DRDO has joined hands with the private sector in design & development and identified 108 Systems & Subsystems for the industry to design, develop and manufacture.


For the first time, several organisations of Ministry of Defence went digital. Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) started online Pre-Delivery inspection in May 2020 to address security threats, while Armed Forces Tribunal began digital hearing for the first time in August 2020. Defence Estates, Canteen Stores Department, services in Cantonment, MoD Pension and National Cadet Corps (NCC) also went online providing faster and transparent services.


Reforms of processes and workflows within Border Roads Organisation (BRO) enabled it to achieve targets ahead of schedule, in some instances. World’s longest Atal tunnel above 10,000 feet, at Rohtang on the Leh-Manali Highway was inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in October 2020. It provides all weather connectivity to the northern borders. Zojila pass, situated on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, was opened almost a month ahead of schedule in April 2020.


In 2020, Ministry of Defence took some historic decisions to increase participation of women in the Armed Forces. Ten streams of Indian Army were opened for giving Permanent Commission to Short Service Commission (SSC) Women officers, while women pilots of Indian Navy were operationalised for the first time. All Sainik Schools were thrown open for girl students from academic session 2020-21.


Expanding the reach of NCC to remote locations was a major announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day on August 15, 2020. More than 1,075 schools/colleges in border and coastal areas were identified and the enrolment began in November 2020. In another decision, it was decided to give preference to NCC cadets in employment in Central Armed Police Forces from May 2020. Youth Exchange Programme Allowance for NCC cadets was increased from Rs 100 per day to Rs 750 and the number of countries was increased from 10 to 15.


Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have mobilised resources to aid the civil administration in fight against COVID-19. Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) provided all emergency support to tide over the situation. They have mobilised doctors, health professionals and set up Quarantine facilities at several locations across the country. DRDO has set up several hospitals to treat COVID patients across the states, passed on technology expertise to manufacture ventilators, oxygen plants, medicines, test kits and PPE kits to private sector for mass production.


The Armed Forces extended a helping hand to the countries in distress. Indian Navy mounted eight relief missions during 2020-21. Besides evacuating stranded Indians from Iran, Sri Lanka and Maldives under Vande Bharat Mission, Indian Naval ships provided Covid-19 medical relief, including medicines and doctors, to five countries. INS Airavat provided 270 MT food aid to Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea struck by natural calamities. The Indian Coast Guard led the rescue operation to save Sri Lanka coast of its biggest oil spill. Indian Air Force carried out over 800 relief missions during 2020-21.

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