Q. Given the transition of technologies in conducting warfare, how us coping with the changing times and promoting the private and public sector to enhance our capabilities? What are the new innovations taking place in this sector?
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Replied by Naval Jagota

In order to invent systems for future wars there needs to be an articulation of the future wars by the users as well as policy makers. These articulations are based upon the present technological and manufacturing development capabilities as well as potential of the industry in that country or in a group of countries. The technologies invented and then developed are founded on either specific adversarial military hardware or generically on capabilities and capacities which are required to be addressedto cater to multiple larger threats. Each invention and subsequent commercial development requires robustness as well as good supply side eco system.

The need for articulating clearly what is required is the need of the hour towards which many steps have been implemented by the government, such as:

  1. Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap provides to the industry an overview of equipment that is envisaged to be inducted into the Indian Armed Forces uptoa decade into the future. This document intends to drive the technology development process that the industry may like to pursue. This roadmap may guide the industry in planning or initiating technology development, partnerships and production arrangements.
  2. (MoD has set up Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative under the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) and Technology Development fund ( TDF) under DRDO to use a multi-pronged approach and reach out/engage a large pool of innovators/technocrats/professionals/academicians including amongst the smaller enterprises, start-ups and MSMES, to foster innovation in a coherent, strategized, and integrated manner. SHQs also undertake Innovations through their internal R & D organisations. Procurement through Innovative solutions could be undertaken under following programmes: - (a) Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX). Projects of Start-ups, MSMEs etc. with low capital investments and high innovation would be pursued under the iDEX category. (b) Technology Development Fund (TDF) Scheme. Projects supported through TDF of DRDO for leveraging the domestic capabilities available with Indian Industries especially MSMEs including Start-ups. (c) Indigenous Development by Services through Internal Organisations. These would include projects where prototype development of equipment/system will be processed by the Services through their internal R&D organisations, such as Base workshop/Dockyards/ Base Repair Depots/ internal indigenisationOrganisations/ Design Agency, etc. Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX). Details of the programme through DISC, SPARK and other such frameworks would be uploaded on the iDEX website www.iDEX.gov.in from time to time.Under the iDEX scheme, a maximum of Rs 1.5 crore funding is available to a participant for development of a prototype. More than 700 start-ups participated in 18 problem statements pertaining to National Defence requirements, launched under 3 rounds of Defence India Start-up Challenges (DISC).
  3. The Government has taken the following policy initiatives to promote ‘Make in India’ in defence sector: -
    1. A new category of capital procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment. It has been accorded top most priority for procurement of capital equipment.
    2. The ‘Make’ Procedure of capital procurement has been simplified. There is a provision for funding of 90% of development cost by the Government to Indian industry under Make-I category. In addition, there are specific reservations for MSMEs under the ‘Make’ procedure.
    3. Separate procedure for ‘Make-II’ category (Industry funded) has been notified under DPP to encourage indigenous development and manufacture of defence equipment. Number of industry friendly provisions such as relaxation of eligibility criterion, minimal documentation, provision for considering proposals suggested by industry/individual etc. have been introduced in this procedure. So far, 49 projects relating to Army, Navy & Air Force, have been accorded ‘Approval in Principle’, out of which 9 projects have already been issued Project Sanction Order for prototype development.
    4. Under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign of Govt of India, Ministry of Defence (MoD) has prepared a list of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them. This would offer a great opportunity to the Indian defence industry to manufacture these items using their own design and development capabilities to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces in the coming years.
  4. The new DAP (Defence Acquisition Procefure) states that Innovation &IndigenisationOrganisation (IIO) will provide impetus to indigenisation, in which each SHQ may establish an Innovation &IndigenisationOrganisation within existing resources. The mandate of IIO/ SHQ will be as follows:-
    1. Be responsible for spearheading innovation &indigenisation.
    2. Identify projects for Indigenous Design and Development including import substitutions.
    3. Undertake advance planning and consultations with stakeholders.
  5. Each service has a technology development cell which identifies technologies in line with future ways to fight wars and thereafter through a process also encourages its development.
  6. DRDO is also an agency through its boards provides ample opportunity to develop subsystems.
  7. It is suggested that two reports on indigenous development and R&D by ViF may also be perused for deeper understanding on the subject.

The industry itself needs to be capable of cross fertilizing and combining its innovative, developmental and manufacturing abilities and presenting it for consideration. In the end the industry also needs to be pro-active in anticipating the needs of the Armed Forces for future wars through t trade body and think tank interactions, private enterprise which focuses on developing a robust and deep R&D will be the leader.

Date : 04/10/2020
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