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.

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