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India cannot keep depending on imported defence supplies: Rajnath Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the launch of 15 products developed by Defence Public Sector Undertakings and Ordnance Factory Board as part of Atmanirbharta week celebrations of Ministry of Defence, in New Delhi, Thursday, Aug 13, 2020. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar are also seen. A PTI Photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI):  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said India cannot depend on foreign governments and overseas suppliers to meet its requirement of military platforms, and self-reliance in the defence sector is far more crucial than any other field.

Singh made the comments after launching a range of new products brought out by several defence public sector undertakings and the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) at an online event.

The products unveiled by Singh included a prototype of Nag missile carrier, a prototype of 8.6x70 mm sniper rifle and an underwater remote operated vehicle. Separately, he also launched a naval innovation and indigenisation organisation of the Indian Navy.

"Security is its first priority for the development of any nation. It is known to all of us that the nations, which are able to protect themselves, they have been able to build their strong image at the global level," Singh on Thursday said.

"We cannot depend on foreign governments, foreign suppliers and foreign defence products to meet our defence needs. It is not compatible with the objectives and feelings of a strong and 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'," he added.

In a mega push to boost domestic defence production, Singh on Sunday announced that India will stop import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems under a staggered timeline running into 2024.

India is one the largest importers of arms globally. According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years.

"We should not only be able to ensure the fulfilment of our national interests but also be able to help other people in times of need. Self-reliance in the defence sector is far more crucial than any other field," Singh said.

The decision to prune the import list of weapons systems under a year-wise schedule was first announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May while rolling out reform measures for the defence manufacturing sector that included increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route.

The defence ministry has set a goal of a turnover of USD 25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years that included an export target of USD 5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.

In his address at the online event, Singh said the concerted efforts being initiated by the defence ministry to streamline the procurement procedures and promote domestic defence industry would lead to the development and manufacture of indigenous defence products.

He said the initiatives would bring down India's dependence on imports, and thereby would help in restricting outflow of foreign exchange and insulate India from "external pressure".

Referring to corporatization of OFB, Singh said if government-owned defence industries are to compete at national and international level then "outdated practices" will have to be done away with.

"We need to have modern management techniques, technology infusion and collaborative efforts to help aid the state defence industries serve the country efficiently. With this purpose the government has initiated steps towards Corporatisation of OFB," he said.

Officials said the prototype of Nag Missile Carrier (NAMICA) developed by Ordnance Factory Medak in association with Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad, has the potential for import substitution to the tune of Rs 260 crore initially which may go up to more than Rs 3,000 crore.

They said the defence minister appreciated state-run BEML for the products they came out with like the 150 tonne Dump truck.

Tags:

Defence  Rajnath Singh  India  Military  PSU  OFB  
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