Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a keynote address at a ‘Webinar on Budget Announcements 2021-22: Galvanising Efforts for Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ on effective implementation of the Union Budget provisions in the defence sector in New Delhi on Monday. The Prime Minister said that the webinar assumes great significance as it is focusing on the important issue of making the country’s defence sector self-reliant.
Since 2014, PM Modi said, it has been the endeavour of the government to move forward in the defence sector with transparency, predictability and ease of doing business. He said that the government has taken steps to bring about de-licensing, de-regulation, export promotion, foreign investment liberalisation, etc.
The Prime Minister said that his government has relied on the capabilities of our engineers and scientists on developing the Tejas fighter aircraft and today Tejas is flying gracefully in the skies. A few weeks back, an order worth Rs. 48,000 crore was placed for Tejas. He added that India has made a list of 101 important items related to defence, which can be manufactured indigenously with the help of our local industries. He said, a timeline has been set so that the domestic industry can plan to meet these requirements.
The Prime Minister highlighted, it is called a negative list in the official language but it is a positive list in the language of self-reliance. This is the positive list on which the country’s manufacturing capacity is going to increase, that will generate employment and will reduce India’s dependence on foreign countries for our defence needs.
In his opening remarks, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hailed Union Budget as a healthy mix of promise, potential and progress. He stressed that forward-looking agenda of the Budget will provide support to the defence and security of the country. Rajnath Singh said, “The Budget focuses on accelerating economic growth and creating job opportunities to reverse the adverse impact of COVID-19 pandemic with ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ at the core.”
The Defence Minister stated that the vision of self-reliant India of the government defined the approach towards the defence sector in this year’s Budget. The Defence Budget has seen an unprecedented increase of 18.75 per cent in capital outlay over and above last financial year (FY) and 30 per cent the year before, which is the highest in the last one and a half decade.
Rajnath Singh termed threat perceptions, aspirations, capacity & capability development initiatives and technological advancements as major factors that drive procurement decisions in defence. He underlined the close cooperation between the Armed Forces and manufacturers to reduce the gap between the aspirations of the Armed Forces and actual delivery by the manufacturers.
The minister stated that ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ is the only mantra to stay abreast with latest technological advancements and remain frugal at the same time. Emphasising that the defence industry can only thrive by going global, he said, the Government is actively promoting not only domestic manufacturing but also an export-oriented defence industry.
“The most important factor that is going to drive the domestic industry is ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’,” the Defence Minister underlined, saying that the government is willing to deal with higher initial costs to build the defence industry for the future. He added that the focus of the Government is on ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to encourage foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to set up manufacturing units in India, develop Joint Ventures with domestic defence sector.
Rajnath Singh listed out number of initiatives taken by the Government to promote domestic defence manufacturing. He shed light on the plans to spend $130 billion on military modernisation in the next five years, mentioning about the recent order of 83 indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft MK 1A, Tejas, worth Rs 48,000 crore, awarded to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) during the recently held Aero India 2021. He added that the contract for indigenously designed Light Combat Helicopter is likely to be signed soon.
He also touched upon the bifurcation of capital procurement budget into domestic and foreign capital procurement routes to ensure more procurement from domestic industry. “The ministry has planned to invest about 63 per cent of the outlay for 2021-22 on domestic procurement, i.e., about Rs 70,221 crore for domestic defence procurement. This increase will have a positive impact on enhanced domestic procurement, having multiplier effect on our industries including MSMEs and Start-ups. It would also increase the employment in defence sector,” he said.
The minister added that during the current financial year, Rs 75,000 crore worth Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) has been accorded, of which 87 per cent relate to ‘Make in India’. He stated that the Ministry is also working on bringing down the delays in timelines of capital acquisition. Rajnath Singh highlighted that MoD has planned to channelise about Rs 1,000 crore during 2021-22 for procurement from Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) start-ups to give a major boost to innovative defence technology and support start-ups base in the country.
The Defence Minister said, the initiatives taken by the Government have resulted in staggering 700 per cent growth in defence exports in the last six years. India entered into the list of top 25 exporters in the world, he said, citing data published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in 2020.
Captains of Industry from SIDM, FICCI and PHDCC appreciated the ministry’s policies for encouraging domestic manufacturing and gave a few suggestions for consideration. In his closing remarks, Rajnath Singh responding to their proposals, made the following seven major announcements:
Another list of items that will be not be imported to be notified in March 2021.
The Letter of Intent (LoI) for Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) will be given to HAL so that the helicopters can be inducted into the Armed Forces coinciding with the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence.
Procurement from private sector will not be limited to 15 per cent but will go much beyond that.
The ‘AON’ contract conversion would be completed within two years under close monitoring.
Projects worth Rs 500 crore to Rs 2,000 crore will be announced on competitive basis and will be finalised within one year.
A “Fund of Funds” worth Rs 10,000 crore has been created for Start-ups and MSMEs. Complete support would be provided to the Defence and Aerospace sector in utilising the fund.
Acceptance in principle would be accorded for at least five Make-1 projects this year.
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ASSAM RIFLES FELICITATES COVID-19 WARRIORS
The Covid warriors worked hand in hand in spreading the awareness and fighting the deadly pandemic. These warriors have worked selflessly to save the humanity. With nationwide rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, these warriors are reaching out to all sections of the society to spread the message about vaccination and its effects.
In its efforts to reach out to the society along with these warriors, 44 Assam Rifles under the aegis of 22 Sect Assam Rifles (AR)/ Inspector General Assam Rifles (IGAR)-EAST in a unique way felicitated these Covid warriors at Tamenglong. Since 16 January Covid-19 vaccination drive has been launched in the state of Manipur. Its prerequisite for the doctors, nursing and other medical staff to be thoroughly aware of the procedures and peculiarities of this vaccination drive. On the sidelines of this function the District Health Society, Tamenglong organised a training session for the medical staff of 44 Assam Rifles in Tamenglong.
The soldiers, being front line workers, are required to be vaccinated timely so that they can discharge their duty well without any risk to their health as well as the without endangering the lives of local populace, especially children and the elders of the society. The interactive and practice session conducted by Dr Sunil Kamei, DIO Tamenglong and his team of four doctors enabled the para medical staff of the unit to conduct vaccination at the unit hospital as well as at the remote outposts.
The CMO and medical team of 44 Assam Rifles felt much more confident in handling and carrying out of vaccination drive for the unit in times to come. Speaking on this occasion the Commandant 44 Assam Rifles thanked Dr Chambo Gonmei, CMO Tamenglong and his medical team for the enriching session and assured them to work hand in hand with them to battle the deadly pandemic till the time it is not fully eradicated from society. He also highlighted various awareness campaigns being undertaken by unit troops in various parts of the district. The troops through posters, banners, plays, interactive sessions, consultive meetings and medical camps are engaged in awareness against Covid-19.
Navy appoints new FOMA & FOCWF
Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar took over as the Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF) from Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan, at a formal ceremony held onboard the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya on Wednesday.
Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, a specialist in Gunnery and Missile Warfare, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 1 July 1988. In a career spanning 32 years, he has commanded five warships on both the Western and Eastern seaboard including the aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.
On promotion to the Flag Rank, he assumed charge as Assistant Controller of Carrier Projects & Assistant Controller of Warships Production & Acquisition overseeing all aspects related to construction and acquisition of warships for the Indian Navy both from Indian as well as foreign shipyards including the indigenous aircraft carrier.
Rear Admiral Atul Anand has assumed the office of Flag Officer Commanding Maharashtra Naval Area earlier this week. The formal handing/ taking over ceremony was held at INS Kunjali, where Rear Admiral Atul Anand was presented a guard of honour at a ceremonial parade. The Flag Officer Maharashtra Area, or FOMA, is responsible for administration, coastal security and other maritime operations of the Maharashtra Naval Area. On behalf of the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy, the FOMA liaises with the State Administration as well as the Army and the Air Force in the state of Maharashtra on a regular basis across a wide spectrum of issues.
Rear Admiral Atul Anand was commissioned on 01 Jan 1988, in the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, the Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, Bangladesh and the National Defence College, New Delhi. He has also attended the prestigious Advance Security Cooperation Course at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Hawaii, USA. His educational qualifications include an M Phil, M Sc (Defence and Strategic Studies), Masters in Defence Studies and a B.Sc degree. A recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal, the Admiral has held several key command appointments in his naval career including the command of Torpedo Recovery Vessel IN TRV A72, Missile Boat INS Chatak, Corvette INS Khukri and the Destroyer INS Mumbai.
He has also served as the Navigating Officer of IN Ships Sharda, Ranvijay and Jyoti. In addition, he was the Direction Officer of the Sea Harrier Squadron INAS 300 and Executive Officer of the destroyer INS Delhi. His important Staff appointments include Joint Director Staff Requirements, Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Director Naval Operations and Director Naval Intelligence (Ops). He has also served as the Principal Director Naval Operations and the Principal Director Strategy, Concepts and Transformation at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy). As a Flag Officer, he has served as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence) at IHQ MoD (N) and Deputy Commandant & Chief Instructor at the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla.
Skynet 6A successfully passes Preliminary Design Review
Airbus has successfully completed the first key phase of the Skynet 6A project with the achievement of the Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The project now has permission to move into the next phase leading to the Critical Design Review (CDR).
Airbus was awarded the Skynet 6A contract in July 2020 and teams across its sites in Stevenage, Portsmouth and Hawthorn have been working on the programme to achieve this key milestone. Meetings with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) were held virtually enabling the review board to take place in October and the PDR being achieved in November.
Richard Franklin, Managing Director of Airbus Defence and Space UK said “This is excellent news and demonstrates our joint commitment to work in partnership to achieve the programme schedule. The progress we are making in building the UK MOD’s next generation military satellite and getting to this stage, despite current restrictions, really highlights the flexible and strong working relationship we have built with the Defence Digital team. Skynet 6A, to be built entirely in the UK, will significantly enhance the UK’s milsatcoms capability, building on the heritage of the four Skynet 5 satellites which were also built by Airbus, and which are all still operating perfectly in orbit.”
Teams from across the space and ground segments in Airbus worked closely with their MOD counterparts to keep the programme on track.
Skynet 6A will extend and enhance the Skynet fleet. The contract signed with the UK MoD in July 2020 involves the development, manufacture, cyber protection, assembly, integration, test and launch, of a military communications satellite, Skynet 6A, planned for launch in 2025.
The contract also covers technology development programmes, new secure telemetry, tracking and command systems, launch, in-orbit testing and ground segment updates to the current Skynet 5 system. The value of the contract is more than £500 million. The Skynet 5 programme, provided by Airbus as a full service outsource contract, has provided the UK MoD with a suite of highly robust, reliable and secure military communications services, supporting global operations since 2003.
Airbus has been involved in all Skynet phases since 1974 and this phase builds on a strong UK commitment to space manufacturing in the UK. The programme commenced by using the legacy Skynet 4 satellites and then augmenting them with a fully refurbished ground network before launching the Skynet 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D satellites between 2007 and 2012. The Skynet 5 programme has reduced or removed many of the technical and service risks for the MOD, whilst ensuring unrivalled secure satcoms and innovation to UK forces. Through the many years of delivering an exceptionally reliable Skynet service the Airbus teams have managed to significantly extend the lifespan of the Skynet satellites many years beyond their design life, offering significant additional value for money and capability to the UK.
The Skynet 6A satellite is based on Airbus’ Eurostar Neo telecommunications satellite platform. It will utilise more of the radio frequency spectrum available for satellite communications and the latest digital processing to provide both more capacity and greater versatility than Skynet 5 satellites. The satellite will feature electric orbit raising propulsion as well as electric station keeping systems for maximum cost effectiveness. Complete satellite integration will take place at Airbus facilities in the UK followed by testing using RAL Space testing facilities at Harwell in Oxfordshire supporting the UK Space Agency initiative for sovereign UK end-to-end satellite production and support.
INS PRALAYA REACHES ABU DHABI TO PARTICIPATE IN NAVDEX 21 AND IDEX 21
Participation of an Indian Navy ship in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 also highlights close relations between India and UAE.
Indian Naval Ship Pralaya arrived at Abu Dhabi, UAE, on 19 February to participate in the NAVDEX 21 (Naval Defence Exhibition) and IDEX 21 (International Defence Exhibition), scheduled from 20 to 25 February 2021. Participation of an Indian Navy ship in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21 also highlights close relations between India and UAE.
Vice Admiral D.K. Tripathi, the Director General Naval Operations (DGNO), Indian Navy, speaking on the subject of ‘A holistic view on Cyber Security Resiliency during the era of Digital Transformation’ at a conference held on the sidelines of IDEX & NAVDEX 2021, emphasised the need for Cyber Resilience aimed at building layers of risk management, disaster recovery, business continuity & cyber insurance. “We need to address mind-sets that formulate policies and strategies, as also look at technologies which provide us with tools for cyber resilience,” said Vice Admiral D.K. Tripathi.
Some of the measures he spoke of included:
– Identification of critical assets, systems and data.
– Protecting critical infrastructure services
– Detection of malicious events & suspected data breaches or data leaks in time.
– Having a proactive response capability, as against a reactive ability.
– Readiness to recover and restore the affected infrastructure, capabilities or services.
Further elaborating on the subject, Vice Admiral DK Tripathi highlighted, “The Cyber Landscape’ is both dynamic and borderless. This forces us to address this challenge in terms of technology, international cooperation and educating the general population”.
Deployment of Indian Navy ships to Abu Dhabi, UAE underscores deep rooted friendly ties and multi-faceted cooperation between India and UAE, and will further strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries. Defence relations between India and UAE have been steadily growing since the upgradation of bilateral relations to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in January 2017 as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. Towards enhancing interactions between the two navies, inaugural edition of Indian Navy-UAE Navy bilateral exercise GULF STAR-1 was conducted in March 2018. The next edition of the exercise is likely to be conducted in 2021. In addition, Indian Navy ships have been making regular port calls at the UAE for promoting maritime cooperation. INS Mysore, an indigenously built guided missile destroyer, mission deployed in the region, is also making a port call at Abu Dhabi, UAE from 19-22 February 2021.
Participation of INS Pralaya in NAVDEX 21 and IDEX 21, one of the leading international naval and defence exhibitions of the region, is aimed at showcasing the strengths of India’s indigenous ship building, in line with Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. INS Pralaya, the second ship of the indigenously built Prabal Class Missile Vessels, was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 18 December 2002. The 56 m long ship, displacing about 560 T is capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots and is fitted with an impressive array of weapons and sensors. These include a 76.2 mm medium range gun, 30 mm close range guns, chaff launchers and long-range surface to surface missiles. The ship, built indigenously at Goa Shipyard Limited, bears testimony to capabilities of the Indian ship building industry and is a versatile platform capable of performing a wide variety of surface warfare missions.
Defence Acquisition Council approves proposals worth Rs 13,700 crore
Delhi: The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has approved capital acquisition proposals of various weapons/ platforms/ equipment/ systems required by the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, in New Delhi on 23 February. Three Acceptance of Necessities (AoNs) for an overall cost of Rs 13,700 crore were accorded. All these AoNs are in the highest priority category of Defence Acquisition viz ‘Buy [Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)].
All these acquisition proposals will be indigenously designed, developed and manufactured. These will include inter-alia platforms and systems designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). To meet the Aatmanirbhar Bharat goals of the Government on time-bound defence procurement process and faster decision making and to systematically work towards reducing the time taken for capital acquisition, the DAC also approved that all capital acquisition contracts (delegated and non-delegated) other than D&D cases shall be concluded in two years. The ministry, in consultation with the Services and all stakeholders, will come up with detailed plan of action for achieving the same.
TARUN SOBTI TAKES OVER THE COMMAND OF EASTERN FLEET
Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti took over the Command of the Eastern Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Eastern Naval Command, from Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan on Tuesday. The change of guard took place at an impressive ceremony held on 23 February in Naval Base, Visakhapatnam.
Rear Admiral Tarun Sobti was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 01 July 1988 and is a specialist in Navigation and Direction. The Flag Officer is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Collège Interarmées de Défense, Paris, France and College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai.
During his illustrious career spanning 32 years, he served as Navigating Officer of INS Kirpan, commissioning Navigating Officer of INS Mysore, Direction Officer on INS Viraat and Executive Officer of missile destroyer INS Delhi. His sea commands include those of missile vessel INS Nishank, missile corvette INS Kora and missile destroyer INS Kolkata of which he was the commissioning Commanding Officer. His prestigious staff and operational appointments include those as Joint Director of Staff Requirements and Joint Director of Personnel at Naval Headquarters and Captain Work-Up at Local Work-Up Team (East).
He also served as the Naval Attaché at Embassy of India, Moscow. Prior assuming command of the Eastern Fleet, the Flag Officer was Deputy Commandant and Chief Instructor of Indian Navy’s premier officer training establishment Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala.
Over the past 12 months, the Eastern Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Sanjay Vatsayan has maintained high level of combat readiness and undertaken various operational missions including Operation Samudra Setu towards repatriation of Indian citizens, Mission SAGAR providing Humanitarian Assistance to friendly foreign countries and Malabar 20. His tenure also saw the commissioning of INS Kavaratti, the indigenously built P28 class ASW corvette. He would be taking over as the Deputy Commandant of the prestigious tri-services institution National Defence Academy at Khadakvasla, Pune, shortly.
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