Modernisation of armed forces, it’s a long haul
Amassive military as ours, with varied responsibilities, needs to be modernised post-haste. As the defence industry is in a transitory phase, moving from totally controlled production by the defence public sector industries to almost a free-market enterprise, the challenges of modernisation are many. It is going to be a long haul.
Confirming this is the IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne who has stated that the current state of IAF modernisation would be complete by 2022. The contracts which were signed during the 11th Five Year Plan, amounting to 1,12,000 crore, would be executed by 2017, accounting for almost 70 per cent of the modernisation plan. Similarly, the new Army Chief, Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh has committed to fast-track modernisation process. In the near future, we are going to see major acquisitions in all the tri-services, the biggest being the MMRCA deal which has gone to Rafale. Considering the dynamic technology environment, modernisation is going to be a continuous process.
In this issue, Lt General (Retd) Naresh Chand has written a comprehensive article on underwater weapons systems across the world, including India’s programmes. India has sought from the US 32 MK-54 lightweight torpedoes and allied equipment for P-81 maritime aircraft which the Indian Navy is procuring. Meanwhile, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing a light weight torpedo called TAL and a heavy weight torpedo called Varunastra.
The modernisation process, which includes indigenisation, transfer of technology etc, has been well understood by the OEMs and other stakeholders. Lockheed Martin, like many other OEMs, has made its intent clear that it is here for the long-term, as the market is going to unfold surely but steadily. What is needed is a major impetus to the research and development efforts which is dismal, euphemistically speaking. Our academic institutions have not been platforms for accelerated R&D, unlike the US where the academia-industry linkages are strong. In the technology section, we have featured how the US Army Research Laboratory has revolutionised and increased transmission power in the Apache helicopter without increasing the transmission’s size or weight. It introduced the split-torque face gear technology, on the Apache Block III helicopter, which gives helicopters more power without becoming heavier or bigger.
There are so many technological developments as witnessed at Eurosatory where the number of new products and innovation launches exceeded 350. In the concluding part of Eurosatory reportage, there is coverage of some new product launches which India may be interested in.