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Third list of defence items banned for import released by Rajnath Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released on Thursday a third “positive indigenisation list” of 101 major pieces of defence equipment that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will no longer clear for import. Instead, these 101 items will be incrementally procured from indigenous sources in accordance with the provisions of Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.

These weapons and platforms will be incrementally banned for import, with some items embargoed from December 2022, and additional items added each December until 2027.

The 101 items embargoed for import today were preceded by two earlier lists: The first list of 101 items was promulgated on August 21, 2020; and a second list of 108 items was announced on May 31, 2021.

“The list, notified by the MoD’s Department of Military Affairs, consists of equipment and systems that are close to being fully developed by indigenous agencies and which are likely to translate into firm orders in next five years,” stated an MoD release.

The third list includes lightweight tanks, 155 millimetre, 52 calibre mounted artillery gun systems, guided extended range (GER) rockets for the Pinaka multi-barrelled rocket launcher (MLRS), naval utility helicopters (NUH), next generation offshore patrol vessels (NGOPV), multi-function surveillance targeting and acquisition radar (MF STAR), medium range anti-ship missiles (MR-SAM naval variant), advanced lightweight torpedo, high endurance autonomous underwater vehicle, medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV), anti-radiation missiles, and loitering munitions.

Import substitution of ammunition, which is a recurring requirement, has been given special emphasis.

The items banned for import have been identified after consultations with stakeholders such as the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Department of Defence Production (DDP), Service Headquarters (SHQs) and the private industry. Rajnath Singh said the MoD and the military would handhold the industry to adhere to time schedules.

The MoD said the import embargoes “reflects the growing confidence of the Government in the capabilities of domestic industry to supply equipment of international standards to meet the demand of the armed forces.”

The MoD also hopes the positive indigenisation lists will stimulate indigenous Research & Development (R&D) by attracting fresh investment into technology and manufacturing.

The defence minister described the third list as a “symbol of 360-degree efforts being made by the government to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.”

DRDO transfers technology to industry
The DRDO, too, pitched in to strengthen local manufacturing by signing 30 Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreements with 25 domestic industries.

Additionally, the defence minister handed over to industry agreements relating to 21 technologies developed by 16 DRDO laboratories across the country. The technologies include quantum random number generator (QRNG), counter drone system, laser directed energy weapon system, missile warhead, high explosive materials, high grade steel, specialised materials, propellants, surveillance and reconnaissance, radar warning receivers, mine barriers, firefighting suits, anti-mine boots, etc.

So far, DRDO has entered into more than 1,430 ToT agreements with Indian industries, out of which a record number of around 450 ToT agreements were signed in the last two years.

Rajnath stated that handing over 30 ToT agreements to the industry shows their increasing trust in DRDO-developed technologies. He expressed hope that the private sector would use these technologies fully to make India a global defence manufacturing hub.

Reminding domestic industry about the government’s support for indigenisation, Rajnath Singh said, 68 per cent of the defence capital budget has been earmarked for domestic procurement. In addition 25 per cent of the defence R&D budget is reserved for the industry, start-ups and academia and for corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board.

The Defence Minister stressed on the danger of importing systems, pointing out that foreign software codes could prove dangerous for the security apparatus as it opens the window of vulnerability.

Stressing the need for indigenisation, he said, “Today, the scope of defence is not limited to borders only. Anyone can now break into the security system of a country with the help of different communication methods. No matter how strong the system is, if it is linked to another country, there is a possibility of a security breach. Earlier, the defence equipment, such as tanks and helicopters, were mainly mechanical in nature. It was not possible to control them. But, newer defence systems are electronic and software intensive. They can be controlled or subverted from anywhere.”

Stressing on domestic production of ammunition as it ensures uninterrupted supply during wars, Rajnath Singh appreciated the import substitution of ammunition in the first two positive indigenisation lists.

He said, when orders for defence items are given to domestic defense industry, it provides employment to lakhs of people working in MSMEs connected to the sector, spread across the country. Business Standard

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