The government is working on second ‘Positive Indigenisation List’ as part of Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan on domestic procurements. It is pursuing initiatives to achieve higher levels of indigenisation and self-reliance in the defence sector by harnessing the capabilities of the public and private sector industries in the country. Case for procurement of Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) and Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) is being progressed in accordance with extant procedures. Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) framework was launched in April 2018 with an aim to achieve self-reliance and to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging industries including MSMEs, startups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia. iDEX provides grants for prototype development and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship among the defence startups. Various initiatives being undertaken under iDEX are as follows:
1. Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC): iDEX is emerging as a front runner & has gained substantial traction in the Defence Startup Community. Various MSMEs/Startups have been funded so far, to evolve services related research towards challenges/Problem Statement of Indian Forces. DISC IV was launched on 29 September, 2020 by the RM.
2. iDEX Open Challenges: As part of the iDEX Open Challenges, the received proposals are reviewed for approval by the High Powered Selection Committee (HPSC).
3. iDEX 4 FAUJI: iDEX 4 FAUJI was launched, along with Defence India Startup Challenge IV to support innovations identified by grass root service personnel serving in the field conditions. This would incorporate the first-hand experience for improving and bringing operational and maintenance improvements in existing platforms, as also generate futuristic ideas for innovations in defence manufacturing. These would then be issued as challenges under iDEX with the shortlisted startups being assisted by the applicant servicemen.
4. As part of iDEX initiative, OFB has taken up in-house R&D projects for development of Armament, Ammunition & Equipment items of Land Systems pertaining to i.e. Artillery & Air Defence Gun Systems, Small Arms Weapons Systems, Armoured Fighting Vehicles and futuristic smart ammunition systems.
5. DRDO through Technology development scheme (TDF) scheme aims to fund private sector industry especially MSMEs including Start-ups. Total 25 Projects have been awarded to various private industries including MSMEs and start-ups under TDF scheme so for. The DRDO has also launched a pan India contest’ to bring innovators, entrepreneurs, individual and startups for innovative ideas in the field of defence and aerospace.
6. There are 11 projects of Indian Army as part of DISC and Open Challenges of iDEX which involves hand holding of 23 start-ups. Indian Navy has leveraged iDEX scheme and is presently engaging 21 startups in design and development for 9 projects. IAF, as part of these initiatives, is progressing 11 cases and is engaged with 17 start-ups/individual innovators/MSMEs for design and development of innovative equipment through iDEX.
Following are the steps to bring down the delays in timelines of capital acquisition:
1. The aim of the Defence Acquisition Procedure- 2020 (DAP) is to ensure timely procurement of military equipment, systems and platforms are required by the Armed Forces in terms of performance, capabilities and quality standards, through optimum utilisation of allocated budgetary resources. The following measures have been envisaged in DAP for achieving timely, efficient and effective procurement:
• Exemption of CNC (Contract Negotiation Committee) from furnishing Reasonability of Cost Certificate for DPSU Equipment already Priced by Committee constituted under orders of the Defence Minister.
• Delegation of Financial powers to Services Headquarters from Rs 150 crore to Rs 300 crore.
• Broad timeframe for completing procurement activities (from AoN to award of contract) had been reduced from 80-117 weeks to 70-94 weeks in multi vendor cases and form 92-137 weeks to 82-114 weeks in resultant Single Vendor cases.
• Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) validity has been reduced to six months (from one year) for ‘Buy’ cases and to one year (from two years) for ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ cases.
• Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) has to accompany Statement of case (SOC) for AoN.
• Single vendor cases at the bid submission and TEC stages will not be automatically retraced but processed with due justification with the approval of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
• Guidelines for change of Name of Vendor have been incorporated in DPP-2016 and Guidelines for Handling of Complaints have been notified to address avoid delays on this account.
• To rationalise time taken for Field Evaluation Trials (FET), it has been provided that FET be held in conditions where equipment is most likely to deployed. In addition, provisions have been incorporated for increased use of certification and simulations in the technical evaluation of equipment.
2. Monitoring Mechanism: As part of DAP-2020, various monitoring mechanism have been introduced. Some of the existing monitoring mechanism for the Acquisition schemes is as follows:
• Periodic review of pre-contract schemes by PSO/APSO at SHQ and by DG (Acq) at MoD.
• Periodic review of delayed cases by DPB/DAC.
• Six monthly Review of shipbuilding cases by the Apex Steering Committee, headed by Secretary (DP) and Quarterly review by CWP&A.
• Empowered Project Committee (EPC) for SP Model 10(1) schemes, FTP cases.
• Monitoring of Make cases by Secretary (DP) and Head PMU-Make.
• Post Contract Monitoring for Projects.
This information was tabled in a written reply by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik to a question asked by Komati Reddy Venkat Reddy and Vanga Geetha Viswanath in the Lok Sabha.
SCHEME FOR PROMOTION OF MSMEs
Following measures have been taken for promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in defence production sector:
• Cases with Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) cost < Rs 100 crore are reserved for MSMEs, provided there are at least two or more MSMEs eligible to participate in the category.
• In order to encourage startups/MSMEs, procurement cases where the estimated cost is not exceeding Rs 100 crore/year based on delivery schedule at the time of seeking AoN or Rs 150 crore, whichever is higher, may be considered for issue of RFP without any stipulation of Financial parameters.
• Project under the Make categories, with procurement not exceeding Rs 100 crore/year based on delivery schedule at the time of seeking AoN are earmarked for MSMEs.
• Offset Policy has been revised in the year 2020, to provide a multiplier of 1.5 where Indian Offset Partner (IOP) is a MSME.
• Department of Defence Production (DDP) regularly conducts outreach programs in various parts of the country to interact with industry associations, industry especially MSMEs and academia, to spread awareness about the potential export opportunities. A scheme aimed to promote MSMEs in defence has been accorded approval. Under this scheme, conclaves/seminars are organised in Tier II and Tier III cities across the country with strong industrial and MSME presence, with the support of DDP. Three state level conclaves and one national level conclave in form of webinar have been organised during last two years under the scheme.
• An innovation ecosystem for defence titled Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) has been launched in April, 2018. iDEX is aimed at creation of an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging Industries including MSMEs, startups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia and provide them grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D which has potential for future adoption for Indian defence and aerospace needs.
• An indigenisation portal namely SRIJAN has been launched in August 2020 for Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs)/Ordnance Factory Board (OFB)/Services with an industry interface to provide development support to MSMEs/startups/industry for import substitution.
• Government has established two Defence Industrial Corridors, one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to serve as an engine of economic development and growth of Indian defence industry including MSMEs.
• Ministry of MSMEs implements various schemes and programmes for promotion and development of MSMEs including defence sector MSMEs across the country. These include Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Scheme of fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), A scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industries and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE), Credit Guarantee scheme, Credit Linked Capital Subsidy and Technology Upgradation Scheme (CLCSSTUS), Technology Centre Systems Programme (TCSP), Micro and Small Enterprises-Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP), Procurement and Marketing Support Scheme etc. Ministry also reviews and monitors the progress of the implementation of the Public Procurement Policy for MSEs Order, 2012.
As per information provided by Ministry of MSMEs, the details of procurement in terms of value from MSEs in Defence Sector by the Defence Department/CPSEs in the last two years and current year are as under:
Further, regular Vendor development programmes and webinars are organized for MSMEs by OFB and DPSUs for development of supply chain. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many webinars were conducted due to Covid-19 restrictions on physical accumulation. This information was tabled in a written reply by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik to a question asked by Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma in the Lok Sabha.
INDIGENOUS AIRCRAFT AND SUBMARINES
Indian Navy has placed orders for following indigenous aircraft and submarines:
(1)Aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL): 12 Dorniers
(ii) 16 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH MK III).
(iii) 8 Chetak helicopters.
(2)Submarines: Six Scorpene class submarines are being built by Mazagon Dock and Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) under Project-75.
There are some delays in the projects. Reasons for delays are as follows:
(1) Aircraft: The deliveries have been delayed due to the supply chain disruptions caused by Covid-19 pandemic.
(2)Submarines: The delays have been caused due to the various defects observed during the trials of the submarines, requirement of certain modifications and delays in the supply of items required for construction by the collaborator / ToT provider-Naval Group, France. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has further impacted the delivery schedule of the submarines. In the interest of national security, the details cannot be divulged. However, the existing submarine fleet is being maintained combat worthy through life extension & modernization/upgradation.
This information was tabled in a written reply by Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik to a question asked by Ravindra Kushwaha and others in the Lok Sabha.
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INDIA REPATRIATES YOUTH FROM POK AT TITHWAL CROSSING POINT
On the night of 5th April, a youth inadvertently crossed the line of control into Karnah, Kupwara (J&K). The youth identified as Mausam son of Manzoor Ahmad from Lipa area of Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan was kept by the Indian troops deployed along the line of control for the night with due care & Pakistani authorities were informed of the whereabouts of the child. Based on the interaction between the authorities of both sides on the hotline, the Indian authorities repatriated the youth to the Pakistani authorities from Tithwal crossing point as a humanitarian gesture. The youth was presented clothes and sweets, on return. On the occasion of repatriation, the representatives of civil administration, Karnah were present. The exchange took place at 1150 a.m. Indian standard Time on 7th April. Such inadvertent crossings have taken place earlier also due to close proximity of villages along line of control on either sides. However, the Indian side has always been prompt in returning the individuals keeping the humanitarian issue in mind.
That way Tithwal Crossing Bridge located on Kishanganga river has been acting as a point of peace between the two sides. It would be pertinent to highlight that the site is visited by lots of people from either sides and is emerging as tourist site especially after the recently agreed ceasefire between India and Pakistan. The peace and tranquility as a result of the agreement, is being appreciated by the civil population on either sides of line of control.
RAJNATH SINGH HOLDS BILATERAL TALKS WITH KAZAKH DEFENCE MINISTER
Discusses ways to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held bilateral talks with Defence Minister of Republic of Kazakhstan Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev in New Delhi on Friday. During the meeting, the two Ministers exchanged views to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation, including through training, defence exercises and capacity building. They agreed that both sides must look at the possibility of defence industrial collaboration of mutual interest. The Defence Minister of Kazakhstan thanked Rajnath Singh for the opportunity given to the Kazakh troops for deployment as part of the Indian battalion in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Both Ministers also positively assessed the annual KAZIND Exercise.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar and other senior civil and military officials of Ministry of Defence were also present on the occasion. Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev is on an official visit to India from April 7th to 10th. He visited HQs 12 Corps at Jodhpur and the Longewala sector in Jaisalmer. The Kazakh Defence Minister is in India on the invitation of Rajnath Singh.
MADE IN CHINA: NOT IN A BATTLE PLEASE
The recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh is being avidly studied in think tanks and military academies over the world for its unusual lessons and the optimisation of disruptive technologies, particularly the success of Azerbaijan’s drones. However, another set of people are quietly studying the conflict even more closely—the global arms industry. Every conflict spurs arms sales. After the overwhelming and quick success of the US-led forces in Gulf War I, there was a long lineup for the latest weapons used in the war. The Saudis wanted F-15 fighters, Apache helicopters, Abrams M1A1 tanks, AWACS radar planes, Patriot missiles, multiple-launch rocket systems, Seahawk helicopters, and Bradley fighting vehicles. The Egyptians wanted Hawk missiles, M-60 tank upgrades, and F-16 fighters, while the Israelis negotiated for portable battlefield-navigation systems, upgrades for the F-15 fighter and the M-109 artillery piece, and more Patriot missiles. A similar interest in the weapon systems, particularly drones, deployed in this conflict is being shown today in cash-rich capitals of many nations.
However, nobody is taking the next flight to Beijing to close an arms deal, though the Chinese have a reputation for being the cheapest in the market. The reason is evident, but hushed. For all their claims of technological prowess, the Chinese systems have failed to deliver. China commenced with large scale sales of drones to many countries as early as 2011. It was a ‘supply shock’, and countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria obtained them. The prices were unbelievably low—both for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs). However, the performance of these inexpensive platforms leaves a lot to be desired. The export versions are regularly falling out of the sky. Algeria has reported a series of accidents in the last six years with the Chinese-supplied CH-4 UCAVs. The CH-4 is produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It is one of the Rainbow series of aircraft built by the state-owned corporation. In Algeria, repeated crashes of CH-4 were reported near Tindouf, Bir Rogaa and Ain Oussera airbases.
Jordan had to put on sale Chinese-supplied UAVs after they failed on all parameters. After purchasing with much fanfare in 2016, within three years, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) had put its Chinese-made six CH-4B UAVs up for sale in June 2019, indicating disappointment with their performance. The RJAF had acquired them in 2016 along with AR-1 laser-guided missiles and FT-9 guided bombs. In June 2020, a Chinese drone crashed in Cambodia, in Koh Kong province’s Kiri Sakor district. It was a Chinese BZK-005, a high altitude UAV used primarily as a long range reconnaissance aircraft, designed by Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics and Harbin Aircraft Industry Company. Within China, their much hyped ‘Predator’ unmanned helicopter developed by Hangzhou Star Low Altitude Helicopter Development Company and hailed as one of the “trailblazers” in the development of China’s drone industry suddenly dived towards the ground and crashed at air show in Hangzhou in October 2020.
The key Chinese system in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict was the WM-80 Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL), sold to Armenia in 1999 with great promises of devastating fires and annihilation of enemy forces. The MRL system was developed by Norinco, the China Ordnance Industries Group Corporation Limited, on Chinese designed Type 83 273 mm. It has a modular design, with two launcher boxes each containing four ready-to-launch rocket rounds on a TAS-5380 8×8 truck chassis. It failed to make any impact on the opposing Azerbaijan forces. In short, the Chinese weapon platforms have proved undependable even in mildly contested environments, leave aside wars with dense and unpredictable Air Defence environment.
There are numerous reliability and supplies issues with China. China signs agreements for a certain variant of a weapon platform but delivers a lower version with many changes. Often the buyer has no choice but to accept since the requirements are urgent, as in case of Algeria who purchased the lower variant as their border situation was worsening with Libya, Mali and Niger. Pakistan has similar compulsions, not to mention a worsening economy. China is also known to avoid providing spare parts and after sales service. Reports indicate that instead of adhering to the original contract, Chinese middlemen keep putting forth new options for better platforms, and make sales pitch simultaneously to rival factions and groups, particularly in Africa. Maybe the Chinese will improve their weapon platforms in near future, and offer some quality along with quantity. Even without quality, there would always be some buyers from the cash-strapped regions. However, for anywhere else where ethics and human lives matter, no ‘Made in China’ crashing drones and dysfunctional systems in a battlefield.
INDIA, MALDIVES CALL FOR GLOBAL COOPERATION AGAINST TERRORISM
First meeting of India-Maldives Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism; the two nations strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms.
The first meeting of the Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism, countering violent extremism and de-radicalisation between India and the Maldives was held in New Delhi on Thursday. The Indian side was led by Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, Vikas Swarup, and the Maldivian side was led by Foreign Secretary Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed. The meeting was held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere that symbolises the time-tested and good neighbourly ties between India and the Maldives and the energy, ambition and scale acquired by our bilateral relations under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
India and the Maldives strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including cross-border terrorism and emphasised the need for strengthening international cooperation to combat terrorism in a comprehensive and sustained manner. Both sides reviewed threats posed by terrorist entities that are under UN sanctions and emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks.
They underlined the urgent need for all countries to take immediate, sustained, verifiable and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under their control is used for terrorist attacks on others and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks. Referring to the joint statement issued during the state visit of Prime Minister Modi to the Maldives in June 2019, the two sides recognized the critical threats that terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation pose to peace and security in the region.
India appreciated the clear-eyed stance taken by the Government of President Solih to counter such threats and the concrete steps taken by the Maldives in this regard. The two sides also exchanged views on various areas of cooperation in the sphere of counter-terrorism including countering radicalization and violent extremism, combating financing of terrorism, preventing exploitation of the internet for terrorism and violent extremism, information sharing, capacity building and establishing institutional linkages between police, security forces, Customs, Immigration and other relevant agencies.
Further, the two sides exchanged views on enhancing bilateral cooperation against narcotics and drug trafficking. The discussions were also informed by the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented to countering terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism.
Both sides agreed to strengthen cooperation that will include assistance and capacity building for the security and law enforcement agencies and other relevant agencies of the Maldives as well as collaboration and the exchange of best practices in the areas of counter-terrorism, preventing and countering of violent extremism and de-radicalisation. The two sides also discussed cooperation in multilateral fora. The Maldivian delegation will also visit the training facilities of National Security Guard and the Bureau of Police Research and Development during its stay in New Delhi.
Indian Army Chief Naravane proceeds on a five-day visit to Bangladesh
Continuing with the excellent tradition of strong bilateral and defence ties between India and Bangladesh, General M.M. Naravane, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) has started a five day visit to Bangladesh from 8th to 12th April. General Naravane’s visit comes in the midst of Swarnim Vijay Varsh celebrations which mark 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh, made possible by the historic leadership of the Bôngobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and heroics of the Mukti Bahini who fought shoulder to shoulder with Indian Armed Forces.
The Army Chief paid tributes to the martyrs of the Liberation War by laying a wreath at the Shikha Anirban on Thursday. This was followed by one to one meetings with the three Service Chiefs of the Bangladesh’s Armed Forces. General Naravane is also scheduled to visit the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi, where he will pay tributes to Bangladesh’s founding father. The COAS will interact with Bangladesh’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on 11th April at Bangladesh Army’s Multipurpose Complex in Dhaka where he will attend a seminar on UN Peace Support Operations and deliver a keynote address on “Changing Nature of Global Conflicts: Role of UN Peacekeepers”
General MM Naravane is also scheduled to interact with the Force Commanders of the United Nations Missions in Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic and the Deputy Chief Operations Officer of the Royal Bhutanese Army on 12th April. He will also attend the closing ceremony of Exercise Shantir Ogrosena, a multilateral UN-mandated counterterrorism exercise comprising the Armed Forces of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka along with observers from the US, UK, Turkey and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia among others. The Chief will also witness the innovations of the Bangladeshi Armed Forces personnel during the Hardware Display. The Chief of the Army Staff will interact with the members of Bangladesh Institute of Peace Support and Training Operations (BIPSOT) during the last leg of his visit. This visit will further deepen the bilateral relationships between the two Armies and act as a catalyst for closer coordination and cooperation between the two countries on a host of strategic issues.
Kazakhstan Defence Minister visits India for bilateral talks
Minister of Defence of Republic of Kazakhstan Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev is on an official visit to India from April 7th to 10th. The Kazakh Defence Minister arrived in Jodhpur on Wednesday and is scheduled to travel to Jaisalmer, New Delhi and Agra for meetings and visit to defence establishments. Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev will hold a bilateral meeting with Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh in New Delhi today. This will be the first meeting after Lieutenant General Nurlan Yermekbayev was re-appointed as Defence Minister of Kazakhstan. The two Ministers had last met in Moscow on 5th September 2020 on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting. The Kazakh Defence Minister is in India on the invitation of Raksha Mantri.
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