NEW DELHI (AP) – India said on Thursday it would increase its production of military equipment, including helicopters, tank engines, missiles and airborne warning systems, to offset possible shortages from its main supplier, Russia.
India is dependent on Russia for almost 60% of its defense equipment and the war in Ukraine has raised doubts about future supplies.
Defense Ministry officials say India, with the world’s second-largest military, fourth-largest air force and seventh-largest navy, cannot sustain imports.
“Our goal is to develop India as a center of defense production,” Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday when he released a list of equipment that will be produced domestically and no longer imported.
The ministry’s website said military orders of 2,100 billion rupees ($ 28 billion) would likely be placed with domestic state-run and private defense producers over the next five years.
Former General DS Hooda said that during a visit to India last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin, both sides decided to move parts of their production to India to meet their demands. Imports of helicopters, corvettes, tank engines, missiles and airborne warning systems will eventually be stopped.
“The demands of the Russian military itself, as well as the damage they will suffer, could mean that some of the spare parts we need will probably be turned around,” said Hooda, a retired Indian army general.
To meet its short-term demands, India could consider buying from former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries, ministry officials said.
Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine could help India with reserves for Russian fighter jets Sukhois and MiG-29 and with upgrading tanks and armored vehicles as they have a similar Soviet platform and spare parts, a ministry official told the ministry. anonymity as he was not allowed to speak to reporters.
Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told his British counterpart Liz Truss during a visit to India last week that the focus was now on “made in India” and that “the more we work together, the more opportunities there are to work together. “
Both sides discussed ways to strengthen India – Britain’s defense ties, apparently to reduce India’s military ridicule of Russia.
India’s Ministry of Defense has so far identified a ‘positive indigenous list’ with more than 300 items with a timeline to ban imports to help local producers meet military requirements in the coming years.
Flugher India has more than 410 Soviet and Russian fighter jets with a mix of imported and licensed systems, including the Su30, MiG-21 and MiG 29. All require Russian spare parts and components. India also has Russian submarines, tanks, helicopters, submarines, frigates and missiles.
Sanctions against Moscow could jeopardize the recent $ 375 million BrahMos cruise control of India’s export order from the Philippines. Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia, which co – founded a joint venture with the Indian state – run Defense Research and Development Agency to design, upgrade and manufacture BrahMos, is responsible for providing engines and missile searchers.
Defense expert Rahul Bedi said India was awaiting delivery of Russian missile systems, frigates, Akula-class nuclear-powered submarines and assault rifles.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is pushing for more self-preservation efforts, while India lacks a strong industrial base for military equipment.
The process of moving spare parts production to India has begun, but Hooda said it was unclear whether it could quickly make up for the lack of supplies.
“I would say that if you really want to see significant progress, it will take at least five years,” he said.
India’s Ministry of Defense has also signed nearly 60 contracts worth over $ 13 billion by 2027 for the purchase of fighter jets and weapons from the United States, France, Russia and Israel. The agreements require that 30-50% of the contract value be returned to India as set-off or reinvestment.
Reconciliation involves the obligation of a foreign supplier to purchase a certain quantity of goods from the importing country as part of the agreement. The government of India wants some of that money to be used for the benefit of the defense industry or for the country to benefit from technology. It involves establishing joint ventures with Indian companies to manufacture defense equipment.
In the 2022-23 budget, the government announced that 68% of all defense procurement would be for domestic producers.
At the same time, bilateral defense trade with the United States increased from near zero in 2008 to $ 15 billion in 2019. Among India’s major purchases from the United States were long-range surveillance aircraft at sea, C-130 cargo planes, missiles and drones.
In 2020, India announced that foreign companies could invest up to 74% in their defense production units, up from 49%, without government approval. The aim is to attract foreign companies with advanced technology to set up factories in India in cooperation with local companies.
India fully reopened its formerly state-owned defense sector to the private sector in 2001. However, only 110 of the 330 private companies licensed for such production have started production, according to the Ministry of Defense.
From scratch, India’s state-run Defense Research and Development Institute began trying to develop advanced defense technology in 1958. It has worked on short-range and long-range Agni and Prithvi missiles, Tejas light fighter jets, tanks, multi-barrel missiles. firearms, air defense systems and a variety of radar and electronic warfare systems.
The Ministry of Defense earmarked 10 billion rupees ($ 135 million) for acquisitions from start-ups in the years 2020-2021.
The government has established two defense tunnels, in the northern part of Uttar Pradesh and the southern part of the state of Tamil Nadu, with investments of 200 billion rupees ($ 2.7 billion) in 2024 by state-owned and private companies.