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USD 26 bn defence production turnover target by 2025: Defence Minister

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh flags off the 51st K9 VAJRA-T gun from L&T Armoured System Complex in Surat, Gujarat on Thursday. Photo: MoD/Twitter

SURAT (PTI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the government has set a target of achieving a turnover of US$ 26 billion by 2025 in defence production as India cannot remain dependent on arms import forever.

The government has taken several steps to support the private sector to boost indigenous defence manufacturing, Singh said after flagging off the 51st K-9 Vajra-T gun at the Larsen and Toubro's (L&T) Armoured Systems Complex at Hazira, Surat in Gujarat.

"India cannot remain dependent on arms import. We have set a target of achieving a turnover of US$ 26 billion by 2025 in the defence production. This involves an investment of US$ 10 billion in this sector and generation of two-three million employment opportunities," he said addressing the gathering.

Singh noted that participation of private sector in defence manufacturing was negligible in the past.

"The private sector could not perform because of lack of support. This scenario increased our dependence on imports," he said.

"Our government has taken many steps to change this scenario so that India becomes not only self-reliant, but also a net exporter in this sector," the Defence Minister said.

He listed various steps taken by the Modi government to boost indigenous defence manufacturing.

"We have streamlined the defence offset policy and we will make more improvements in it. We have created a defence investment cell in the Defence Ministry to address bottlenecks related to investment in this sector," he said.

Referring to the Howitzer gun being manufactured by L&T at Hazira, Singh said, "A new dimension in the area of defence manufacturing, involving private sector, has been added today."

He, however, said there is a lot to be done to make India a defence manufacturing hub.

"Our government is committed to channelise the entrepreneurship spirit. We will try to remove roadblocks," the Minister assured.

Singh earlier performed puja of the gun, drew 'swastika' (holy symbol) on it and showed a green flag to the 51st gun.

Before the launch ceremony, Singh sat in the vehicle on which the gun was mounted and was driven around the Hazira complex. He witnessed a demonstration of the weapon in the testing area.

L&T Defence is currently executing the 'K9 VAJRA-T' 155mm/52 calibre tracked, self-propelled, howitzer guns programme.

The engineering conglomerate, which had won the contract to deliver 100 such howitzer guns, has already delivered 50 units to the Indian Army in the past while on Thursday it handed over the 51st gun, the company said in a release.

The hi-tech gun is also equipped with other India specific modifications for desert conditions such as auxiliary power pack, air-conditioning systems, fire fighting systems, and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection systems which are being indigenously produced, it said.

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