‘Relying on imports for critical defence needs a concern’

October 18th, 2011 - 5:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) With imports accounting for 70 percent of the hardware in the inventory of the armed forces, the government said Tuesday this was a matter of concern and the situation should be upended in favour of domestic suppliers.

“Despite a vast industrial infrastructure, we are still a long way from establishing ourselves as a major defence equipment manufacturing nation, with heavy reliance on imports. The government views import of critical capabilities with concern and is committed to correct this imbalance,” Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said, while inaugurating a two-day seminar on ‘Command, Control, Computers, Communication, Intelligence and Information (C4I2)’ here.

He said the imbalance between domestic supplies and imports of defence equipment “can only be corrected by expansion of the indigenous defence industrial base, increasing investment in research and development, identification of core technologies, where India is already a lead country, and by promoting private-public partnership.”

The perception that the private and the public sector are potential rivals is misplaced, Raju said, noting that there was great scope for developing “a synchronised approach” in strengthening and widening the defence industrial base.

“I am optimistic that competition will give way to cooperation, enabling both to grow as prospective partners in the defence industry,” he said.

Referring to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), Raju said it looked at the industry as “a capable partner” in providing the means for the transformation that the government sought.

“The offset policy in DPP is sure to provide a fair playing ground to both the public and private sectors leading to an enhanced domestic capability,” he said.

Raju also called for a greater participation by the industry in the field of information technology to harness this for national security.

“For this, there is an urgent need for the Indian industry to give greater attention to research and development for ensuring that cutting edge technology is available to the Indian armed forces. It will be my endeavour to create a level playing field and ensure that greater opportunities are given to Indian entrepreneurs.”

Raju said major revolutions in information and communication technology were transforming the very basis of accepted notions of warfare and global security.

“The modern battlefield scenario is becoming more and more complex due to increase in ranges and complexity of military equipment, advances in information technology and sophistication of C4I2 structures and net-centric warfare.

“Adoption of the latest technology in developing new warfare systems would propel us towards our goal of achieving a technological edge over the adversary in prevailing decisively across the entire spectrum of conflict with reduced force levels and minimal casualties,” Raju added.

Noting that cyber security and security of defence networks was “a big challenge”, he expressed confidence in the Indian armed forces addressing emerging challenges while developing their C4I2 networks.

Raju said future military operations would be carried out joinly by the army, navy and air force, where the desired level of synergy with flow of correlated and intelligent information between the three services was very high.

“To translate any joint doctrine into action, interoperability between the army, navy and air force is crucial,” he said.

“While each service is developing its network centricity, much work is underway in formulating policies and standards that will facilitate this integration,” Raju added.

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