R&D, indigenisation to drive Defence, Aerospace industry sectors
In the Defence and Aerospace sectors there have been a lot of reforms in the recent past and the Government is actively reviewing the policies set for these industries. The conference on Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing Technologies organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Chennai with the theme ‘Make in India— Fast Developing Ecosystem for Aerospace and Defence Industry’ called for an active involvement of Indian and foreign companies in the creation of an ecosystem that could go a long way to establish a solid base for the nation’s defence and economic systems that needed sustained acceleration.
Jayakar Krishnamurthy, Conference Chairman, and Chairman and Managing Director, UCAL, said that Aerospace and Defence needed 4 major things for growth: A vast land mass, abundant natural resources, sustainable population, and distribution of equitable economic growth. India spends only $ 56 billion on Defence despite its large area and population density. In R&D investment, Israel tops the list with 4.3%. India is the lowest at 0.9%. “It is impossible for India to keep on importing Defence equipments without making R&D investments which were necessary for sustainable
economic and Defence industry growth,” he said.
India has to develop an ecosystem similar to the successful automotive industry model which comprises Tier 1,Tier 2, Tier 3 and R&D. Krishnamurthy called for a proper policy for `Design & Make in India’, which would be the right way forward.
B Elangovan, Managing Director, Tidel Park Limited said, “The aerospace industry is emerging in India and it is fuelled by the recent order for 700 aircraft by the Indian operators. Aerospace has technological advancements and huge business volume but we need policy and regulatory support from the government. In line with the business volumes the Chennai Aerospace Park is set up in Sriperumbudur. We give open space for MRO and facilities are provided for 3D printing, visual studio, prototype, and skill training. Construction of multi-floor plug and play facility will also be taken up shortly. Seventy engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu have aerospace courses and we expect 40% human resource population would be from the State.”
Dr A Velayudham, Scientist, Combat Vehicle Research & Development Establishment, DRDO, Ministry of Defence said, “Additive manufacturing is the evolving technology in the aerospace industry. With 3D printing, the number of parts will be reduced from 14 to 1, the process steps from 18 to 5 and the manufacturing cost by 50%. The advantages include design freedom, simplified and integrated assemblies, geography independent, and reduction in product development cost. There are challenges with the process parameters, powder specification and validation of the process. Research in these technologies and Make in and for India, Design in and for India will surely take India to the next level in defence and aerospace industry.”
Anil Kumar, General Manager, Engine Factory-Avadi, Ministry of Defence, Government of India said, “Huge imports take place in Army, Navy and Airforce, offering big scope for local manufacturing in the aerospace industry. Aluminium castings are required for engines for the armoured vehicles. Indigenisation is needed in a big way here. We have to synergise the strength and capabilities in R&D, and resources are very much available in India.”
He further said indigenisation in a service depends on its own priority, committed man power, financial empowerment of the organisation and ability to catalyse the industry to design or manufacture as per the requirement. Indigenisation in Navy is far higher than in army and Airforce despite the lower number of equipment.
Vice-Admiral, B Kannan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), Managing Director and CEO, L&T shipbuilding Limited said, “For most of the defence projects, technology infusion is needed from indigenous or foreign sources. Incorporation of digital technologies for enhanced productivity is needed which facilitates efficient integration of collaborative efforts. The industries would invest on infrastructure and R&D if level playing field and speedy decision-making are assured.”
Tal Catran, Marketing and Business Development Expert Consultant, MHT Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd, Israel said, “Israel is considered as the number one in defence industry. We are a 69 year old country with 8.3 million people. We encourage young talents and start-ups and we are the 43rd largest economy in the world. We are termed as a start-up Nation across the world. Though we are small in area and less in population we have good R&D strength and 80% of our production goes to export markets. We have 15000 employees and within that we have 6000 engineers.”
Catran added that India has a growing aviation market along with the US, the UK, Indonesia and China. According to IATA forecast, by 2025 India will replace the UK and become the 3rd biggest aviation market in the world. India has a huge potential but it needs to focus on R&D and even the joint venture will help the country excel in this arena. “We are ready to have a tie-up but we need to get the call for it,” he said.
R Asokan, Professor and Head, Centre for Defence Technology Studies, Hindustan University said, “The Defence Technology Centre at Hindustan University was established in 2012 to generate credible and effective human resource base and create a team of professionals.
We provide conducive environment for budding professionals to achieve excellence in the field of Defence technology and management.”