India, US working on stronger defence ties
US Defence Secretary General Lloyd Austin will be visiting India from March 19-21. He will be meeting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh along with a few top industry leaders. The need to “operationalize major defence partnership” will be on the agenda besides talks on defence trade and cooperation in new and emerging domains like artificial intelligence, robotics, etc. There is a renewed thrust on deeper engagement, a greater information sharing and the US providing access to India to cutting-edge technology in armed drones, unmanned fighter jets, etc. Since 2008, the US defence exports to India have crossed $20 billion, latest purchase by India being of 30 armed drones of the ‘predator family’ from US firm General Atomics. Discussions are going on to negotiate end-use monitoring arrangements (EUMA) for the import of US technology, defence equipment and supplies. EUMA will focus on India’s requirement of large number of drones. Both the nations have been following such agreements since 1990s. A generic formulation was agreed to in 2009 for all future purchases to do away with the ad-hoc case-by-case arrangement for procurement of defence technology and equipment from the US.
Armies of India and Uzbekistan share counter terror tactics
The ongoing Dustlik-II series of exercise saw Indian army sharing its counter terrorism operation skills with the soldiers of the Uzbekistan army in its foreign training node at Chaubatia in Ranikhet, Uttarakhand. The exercise involves use of helicopters to insert soldiers into operational area and training on modern weapons like the Sig Sauer of the Indian soldiers. The exercise aims to conduct sub-unit level operations in counter terrorism role under United Nations (UN) mandate. On the first day of the exercise both the countries shared each-others drills, demonstrations and best practices with India showcasing its technological advancements and Uzbekistan army sharing its survival skills. Uzbek soldiers learnt firing from Sig Sauer rifles, their main personal weapon being the Assault Kalashnikov (AK) series of rifle. Both the teams practiced the static slithering which will be demonstrated using the MI-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Force during validation phase of the exercise. Dustlik in Uzbek language means friendship, the 10-day exercise is being held under the United Nations mandate in order to focus on counter terrorism operations in the mountainous terrain. 45 personnel are participating in the exercise from each side. Kumaon Regiment of Indian Army and Uzbek army units of its central district have been selected for the exercise.
The Indian Army procured the US made 72,400 SIG-716 assault rifles in 2019 which have been given to all frontline infantry troops. The rifle weighs 3.82 kgs with a range of 600m. The rifle is about to replace INSAS rifles used presently. First edition of Dustlik took place in 2019.
SIPRI report ranks India second in defence imports
The US is world’s top weapons supplier with more than a third of the global arms sold worldwide originating in the country. It accounted for 37% of global arms sales during 2016-2020 period, selling arms to 96 countries, half of the sales accounted for Middle East. A Sweden based research institute Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) presented its report regarding global arms transfers. As compared to the last five-year duration 2011-2015, global volume of arms transfers has dropped drastically in recent period. World’s second largest exporter Russia accounted for one-fifth of global arms deliveries. Russian sales have declined by 22 % principally due to sizeable drop in imports by India.
France became third largest exporter owing to several large deals with countries like India, Egypt and Qatar. Germany and China also reached top five exporters list. Saudi Arabia accounted for 11% imports and thus became world’s largest arms importer. Other top importers are India, Egypt, Australia and China.
Measures to enhance capacity of security forces
The government has embarked on a way to promote indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defense equipment in the country along with enabling development or Transfer of Technology (ToT) in the country. A number of steps have been taken to achieve self-sufficiency in defence sector :
- Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020 which is a revised version of Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 driven by the tenets of defence reforms under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’.
- To boost defence related industries, North and South Defence Industrial Corridors have been opened.
- Promoting Industries by ‘Suo Moto’ acceptance of proposals for undertaking indigenous designs and development needed by the armed forces.
- Formation of Technology Development Fund and it’s processes so as to promote collaboration between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian industry to come up with new and innovative technological development ideas.
- In order to boost defence manufacture, a formidable ecosystem for startups or individual innovators / MSMEs has been formulated in the form of innovation in defence excellence (iDEX).
- To fulfill the operational needs of India Army, the Army Technology Board (ATB) has been set up. It enables indigenous research and development.
- Army Design Bureau (ADB), launched by Indian Army on 31st August 2016, promotes R&D and procurement of indigenously developed weapons and equipment extensive outreach program for industry, MSMEs, startups and academia across the country, in keeping with the spirit of ‘Make in India’ program.
- Indian Navy is in works with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for the indigenous development and acquisition of a Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF).
- A ‘First Positive Indigenization List’ of 101 items has been notified by the Ministry of Defense. There would be a time bound embargo on the import of these items signifying a big step towards Self Reliance in Defence Sector.
- DRDO is playing a major role in the Indigenization and modernization efforts of the defence equipment. Government is promoting such efforts with time to time reforms and policy measures.