DRDO Projects Shore Up India as a Key Defense Exporter



Indian defense exports are expected to increase from $ 1.5 billion to $5 billion annually by 2024-25, with the latest aerospace technology innovations settling within India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). DRDO products for export that are built with the latest defense technology were presented during the 75th Republic Day Parade at Kartavya Path on 26 January 2024. The missiles are built with indigenous technology and will be exported to Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Israel, Egypt, UAE, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Poland, Spain, and Chile.

Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) Chairman Samir V. Kamat says, “India is ready to start exporting land-based systems for BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles in the next 10 days. These cruise missiles are expected to be shipped by March this year.

Indian Navy had successfully test-fired a BrahMos missile from one of its warships in the Bay of Bengal. The rocket met all mission objectives. The head of the Defense Research and Development Organization said the first set of BrahMos missile systems is expected to arrive in the Philippines by the end of March.

Export of BrahMos Missiles to the Philippines

The export of BrahMos missiles to the Philippines is the largest-ever defense export deal that India has signed with any foreign country. India signed a $375 million deal with the Philippines in January 2022 to supply the coast-to-coast anti-ship variant of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

Highlighting the significance of exports in the defense sector, Kamat says, "I am sure over the coming years, exports are going to become a very important part of our portfolio. Various DRDO-developed products, including hull-mounted sonars, lightweight torpedoes, and radars, have been exported, with growing interest from other countries in products like Pinaka.”

Manila and Beijing are engaged in a major maritime dispute over the South China Sea, where Beijing is trying to win over other rivals in the region. India and the Philippines are allies and recently conducted joint naval exercises in a part of the disputed South China Sea that Manila officially calls the West Philippine Sea.

The DRDO Chairman noted that products developed by DRDO worth approximately Rs 4.94 lakh crore have either been inducted into defense or received Approval of Necessity (AoN) from the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC). He also highlighted the accelerating pace of development, with more than 60-70 percent of product launches appearing in the last 5-7 years, predicting a further increase in this rate in the future.

BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile

The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, a joint venture with Russia, continues to strengthen India's deterrence capability and cements its position as a reliable player in international arms markets. This underlines the global demand for India's advanced defense capabilities and positions the country as a reliable partner in the international arms market.

The involvement of women in defense research and development will be strongly emphasized in the tableau. Eminent scientist Smt Sunita Devi Jena will be the commander of the contingent. The image shows the Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM), Anti-Satellite Missile (ASAT) and Agni-5, Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile, Very Short Range Air Defense System (VSHORADS), Naval Anti-Ship Missile – Short Range (NASM-SR), Anti-Tank Guided HELINA Missile, Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM), Astra, Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, ‘Uttam’ Active Electronically Sensing Radar (AESAR), Advanced Electronic Warfare System 'Shakti,' Cyber ​​Security Systems, Command Control Systems, and Semiconductor Fabrication Facility.

"The anti-satellite (ASAT) missile used in the Shakti mission was a breakthrough in demonstrating the nation's anti-satellite technology and precision strike capability. India is the fourth country to acquire such specialized and advanced capabilities. The Agni-5 is a surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of hitting targets with a high degree of accuracy."

The independently developed MPATGM is a third-generation ATGM with Fire & Forget, Top Attack, and night operational capability. It is launched from a man-portable launcher integrated with thermal imaging. NASM-SR is the first domestic air-launched anti-ship missile system. VSHORADS is a portable air defense system designed to neutralize air threats at low altitudes at short distances. The Nag-launched helicopter is a third-generation, fire-and-forget anti-tank cruise missile capable of hitting targets in both direct hit and top attack modes. The system has day and night all-weather capability and can defeat both conventional and explosive reactive armor battle tanks.

Advanced Missiles 

QRSAM is an all-weather air defense system that provides mobile air defense cover to mechanized assets of the Indian Army in the tactical battle area. ASTRA is a state-of-the-art, beyond-visible-range air-to-air missile that engages and destroys highly maneuverable supersonic air targets. The LCA Tejas is an indigenously developed 4+ generation light and multi-role tactical fighter aircraft that can carry laser-guided bombs and advanced missiles that cause extreme damage to the target. The Uttam Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESAR) is a multi-mode, solid-state active phased array fire control radar with a scalable architecture that can be adapted for different types of fighter aircraft. The Advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) system 'Shakti' was designed and developed for the Indian Navy to intercept, detect, classify, identify, and jam conventional and modern radars.

Many other systems/technologies developed by DRDO will also be exhibited at the Kartavya Path in various contingents of the armed forces. These include Pinaka, Nag Missile System, Mobile Bridging System 'Sarvatra,' Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM), Weapon Locating Radar 'Swathi' etc. The Indian Air Force flyby will include LCA Tejas and AEW&C developed by DRDO. DRDO is the design and development agency for the armed forces, and to enhance the spirit of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat', it collaborates with all stakeholders of the defense ecosystem, including academia, industry, SMEs, start-ups, and services in developing state-of-the-art defense systems.

The Leading Exporters

The US, Russia, France, China, and Germany account for nearly 77 percent of global arms exports, according to the report. In the period 2017-21, China accounted for 4.6 percent of global arms exports. However, China's exports fell by 31 percent from 2012-2016. According to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, India exported defense items worth 14,000 crore in 2021-22. This was a sharp increase from Rs 900 crore of exports in 2014.