Indigenous Technology Driving the Indian Defence Sector

H J Kamath,
Senior Vice President-Zen Technologies
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
H J Kamath,
With India maturing as a regional power and aligning its focus on transforming into a global power, the defence sector is increasingly occupying a larger mindshare in the country’s long-term strategic plan. The ‘Make in India’ drive is a reflection of this pivot. Indigenous Technology will be the driving force for the Indian defence sector to truly mature and address the demands of the armed forces.

Wars are becoming technology intensive. The proxy and asymmetric warfare calls for a very high level of preparedness in terms of gathering Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR). India also has a long border with high rise Himalaya Mountains in the north and north-east, a combination of slush and desert in the west and north-west and deep jungles in the east and the rest of India is bound by large oceans which poses even higher order of threat, notwithstanding the claims by many adversaries on the ownership of deep oceans. The infiltration across the border and home grown terrorism also needs to be addressed.

To counter the perceived threats, Indian Defence Forces must be in possession of diverse range of weapons including various class of missiles, an excellent networked ISTAR system, a strong Air Force with flying assets well supported by Early warning systems, a strong army supported by ground based weaponry with a powerful logistics support and definitely a strong naval fleet to protect the littoral waters and carry out deep sea offensive operations. The last but not the least is to develop very strong training mechanisms to ensure all-time preparedness as well as to reduce the cost of training using live platforms.

The first step that needs to be taken by the Indian defence industry is to enhance its technological capability either through access to foreign military technology or indigenous development.To ensure that the indigenous technological base grows it should also be commercially viable. There is therefore a need to identify maximum number of R&D projects with a good mix of low, medium and high technologies that are not only in line with India’s strategic vision for defence but also have dual use potential.

There is no lack of R&D in the defence sector, however the knowledge has been left underutilized due to various reasons, which has compelled India to source technology from outside. India is one of the largest defence equipment importers, accounting for more than 14 per cent of global arms imports during 2009-13, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). True indigenization starts with developing home-grown technology which is commercially viable and easily deployable.

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