Being a True Republic: You Got to Love this New, Powerful India
Despite the pandemic setting us a few years back, it's been a great year for India, especially in the country's defense segment. The lion's share of credit goes to the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). It was a breakout year for the DRDO, the fulcrum of India's self-reliance in defense.
The new year marked the organization's 65th Foundation Day, and its chairman Dr. Samir V Kamat, and other dignitaries celebrated the day by paying tribute to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Commenting on the occasion, Dr. Samir walked us through the significant achievements of DRDO in the past year. The organization signed 145 Transfer of Technologies (ToT). Last year, DRDO filed 160 patents, of which 100 were granted. In the budget, the fund limit under Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme was enhanced to Rs 50 crore from Rs 10 crore per project. This will enable DRDO to support the industry in developing more complex technologies.
Dr. Samir also mentioned that MoU was signed between Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation and TDF to work jointly on advanced naval technologies. In addition, he also shed light on initiatives such as the 4th version of the Dare to Dream contest, which the Raksha Mantri has launched. DRDO has now established 15 DRDO-Industry-Academia Centres of Excellence (DIA-CoEs). Currently, 867 projects are ongoing with academia at the cost of Rs 1,183 crore.
DRDO is currently home to several systems that are also undergoing developmental trials. These include:
Electronic Warfare Systems for Naval platforms under the program Samudrika
Phase-II Ballistic Missile Defence Interceptor AD-1 Missile
Extended range version of BrahMos from Su-30 aircraft
Very Short Range Air Defence System
Naval Anti-Ship Missile-Short Range, Agni Prime
Vertical Launch-Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM),
‘Akash’ New Generation
Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM),
Enhanced Range Pinaka Rocket System
High-speed expendable Aerial Target 'Abhyas'
Small Turbo Fan Engine
Kaveri Dry Engine WhAP-CBRN, Shatrughat
EW Systems for Plains and Desert Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar 'Uttam'
Advanced Light Towed Array Sonar.
While most of the systems are under trial and will be handed over to the users in the coming year, five additional CCS programs worth Rs 26,000 crore and 55 other projects worth Rs 11,000 crore were sanctioned for the organization in 2022. Additionally, several other flagship programs, such as Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), are also under consideration for approval by CCS. The organization is definitely keeping itself busy.
Vikrant is not just a warship. This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence, and commitment of India in the 21st century. If the goals are distant, the journeys are long, and the ocean and the challenges are endless – then India's answer is Vikrant.
The relentless and vigorous efforts of the reinvented DRDO have significantly paid off, helping India revamp its defense approach, especially given the aggressive Chinese foreign policy and the need to provide a sustainable answer to the noisy neighbors in the North-West. It all comes down to the powerful self-reliance vision of India, the Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Indeed, one of the first major decisions of the BJP government after ascending to power in 2014 was modernizing its defense forces. Building a self-reliant backbone through DRDO was the real key to this approach. It has worked.
While announcing a long-term revolutionary defense overhaul plan right away, the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016 signed the 'Rafale deal,' in which India would pay about ₹58,000 crore or €7.8 billion for 36 off-the-shelf Dassault Rafale twin-engine fighters. Several offset obligations were also a part of the contract, including the need to reinvest 50 percent of the total contract in India each year between September 2019 and September 2022. It aligned well with the country's self-reliance vision. In a historic decision in 2021, PM Modi replaced the country's over 200-year-old Ordnance Factory Board with seven new state-run defense firms. The Modi government soon widened its defense horizons by announcing its plan to become a prominent defense exporter.
In that regard, the year 2022 became a great milestone for the country as it formally inked its first major defense system export deal with the Philippines—a $375 million contract for the BrahMos shore-based anti-ship missile system. Subsequently, India signed new missiles & weapon systems export deals with countries like Armenia (Rs. 2,000 crore) and Bangladesh (Rs. 4100 crore). The result? India's defense exports stood at a record ₹14,000 crore in 2021-22—its highest ever.
Recently, PM Modi has proposed a challenge for the Aerospace industry with his call to achieve an annual defense export target of Rs 40,000 crore. "Under the self-reliant India campaign, the country's goal is to make India the world's biggest military power on its own and development of modern military industry in India," PM Modi clarifies.
Last year, India also celebrated a historical milestone when it commissioned the first ever Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC)- Vikrant. It was designed by the Indian Navy's in-house Warship Design Bureau (WDB) and built by Cochin Shipyard Limited, a Public Sector Shipyard under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways. The largest ship ever built in the maritime history of India, Vikrant comprises state-of-the-art automation features.
The Indigenous Aircraft Carrier is named after her historic predecessor, India's first aircraft carrier, which played an important part in the war of 1971. The ship makes the first Vikrant proud as it has a large number of indigenous equipment and machinery, thanks to the major industrial houses in the country, viz. BEL, BHEL, GRSE, Keltron, Kirloskar, Larsen & Toubro, Wartsila India etc. as well as over 100 MSMEs. With Vikrant's commissioning, India now has two operational aircraft carriers, which will greatly improve the country's maritime security.
Commenting on the occasion, PM Modi echoed his sentiments, "Vikrant is not just a warship. This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence, and commitment of India in the 21st century. If the goals are distant, the journeys are long, and the ocean and the challenges are endless – then India's answer is Vikrant. The incomparable Amrit of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is Vikrant. Vikrant is a unique reflection of India becoming self-reliant." It's becoming more lucid that India is becoming stronger and is advancing in the right direction. Happy republic day!