Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative has helped the defence ministry save more than Rs 1 lakh crore worth of foreign exchange. In the past two years, as many as six air defence and anti-tank missile projects have been built indigenously by the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), even as several new ones are under its consideration.
Senior defence officials said the decision by the government in favour of going for Make in India is also going to help the development of the indigenous defence industry as the money which would have been transferred to foreign vendors would now be spent within the country and will also develop the capabilities of the indigenous players.
Even though three different defence ministers Arun Jaitley, Manohar Parrikar and the incumbent Nirmala Sitharaman have held the office in the last three years, all of them have shown inclination towards Indian projects while deciding on whether to buy the missile systems from abroad or go for Made in India systems, the officials said. The services chiefs have also backed the indigenous programmes fully while allowing the Defence Research and Development Organisation to take time to develop in-house missile systems.
The projects where the government has decided against the foreign vendors and gone for DRDO’s Made in India products include the two separate projects for Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (SR-SAMs) for the Navy and the Army, The Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) for Army, Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) for the Army, helicopter-launched anti-tank guided missiles for the Army and the armoured vehicle launched anti-tank missiles for the ground force.
Some of these missiles which will substitute imports have been under development for the last several decades. It goes to the credit of DRDO that some of the projects that have been undertaken by it in recent times have also reached advanced stage, due to the organisation’s expertise.
Mail Today takes a look at the different projects including the missiles, which Defence Research and Development Organisation have developed indigenously and calculates the money the country has saved. SR-SAM (short range surface to air missiles) project for the Navy (expected cost : Rs 30,000 crore) The Navy wanted the capability to annihilate any incoming enemy aircraft, drones and cruise missiles at a short range altitude of 20-25 kilometres and was keen on going in for a European solution. Prior to this, Navy had also said no to the indigenous Akash missiles on the grounds that it wanted a more compact system.The DRDO then proposed to develop an indigenous canisterised version of the short range air defence missile.
Following this, the government decided to scrap the plan to buy the European missile in large numbers and go in for a Make in India solution. The defence ministry has now decided to go in only for limited procurements from abroad. SR-SAM project for the Army (expected cost Rs 20,000 crore): Under this programme, the Army wanted to buy missiles from global vendors in Russia, Israel and Sweden. The force demanded that they want a system in which the missile should have a sensor to track and target the incoming missiles accurately. The DRDO then offered its latest version of Akash missile with an indigenous sensor. The project was accepted, and the then defence minister Arun Jaitley scrapped the global tender.
The new missile named Akash-S1 was tested successfully five times in Odisha, last week. HELINA (Helicopter Launched NAG missiles) and NAG (expected cost Rs 10,000 crore): The HELINA programme has been going on for several decades and it started showing success in tests in recent times.