India has achieved self-reliance in defence sector, says MoS Ajay Bhatt

The Indian defence industry is now capable of manufacturing a wide variety of high-end products such as tanks, armoured vehicles, fighter aircraft, warships, submarines, missiles, electronic equipment, special alloys and variety of ammunition, Minister of State for Defence, Ajay Bhatt, said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

According to the Ministry of Defence, rapid progress has been made towards achieving complete ‘Aatmanirbharta’ (self-reliance) in the manufacturing of defence equipment required by the armed forces within the country.

As a result of these initiatives, many state-of-the-art products, including 155 mm artillery gun system ‘Dhanush’, light combat aircraft ‘Tejas’, surface-to-air missile system ‘Akash’, main battle tank ‘Arjun’, armoured personnel carrier ‘BMP-II and IIK’, Su-30 MK1, Cheetah helicopter, INS Khanderi, anti-submarine warfare corvette (ASWC), etc. have been produced in the country during the last few years.

The government has taken several policy initiatives and brought in reforms to encourage indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, thereby promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing and technology in the country, the minister said.

“For the first time, an advanced towed artillery gun (ATAG), howitzer, has been developed by our industry which was was part of the 21-gun salute during the Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort in Delhi this year,” he said.

An innovation ecosystem for defence titled Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) was launched in April 2018 to foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace sectors by engaging industries, including MSMEs, startups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.

“iDEX provides them grants and other support to carry out innovations, which have potential for future adoption for India’s defence and aerospace needs. Under iDEX, 233 problems have been opened, 310 startups have been engaged, and 140 contracts have been signed. The ‘iDEX Prime’ framework under iDEX has been launched in 2022 to support startups with grant-in-aid of up to Rs 10 crore to enable the development of high-end solutions,” Bhatt said.

Till October 2022, a total of 595 industrial licences have been issued to 366 companies operating in the defence sector, he said.

The government has also established two defence industrial corridors, one each in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, to attract investments in aerospace and defence sectors, he said.

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