Need to raise the bar of safety
The recent accident of the C-130J Super Hercules of the Indian Air Force killing four officers and a junior commissioned officer has brought up the topic of safety standards in the armed forces. Though the cause of the accident is yet to be established, the issue of following the standard operating procedures (SOPs) is becoming key in the armed forces, particularly in the light of the series of accidents in the Indian Navy.
Not just the armed forces, recently the US Federal Aviation Administration downgraded India to Category 2 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme. A Category 2 rating signifies an assessment that India’s safety oversight regime does not meet international safety standards.
This calls for all the stakeholders, both in the aerospace and defence sectors, to relook at the SOPs and ensure that they are adhered to. That some of the equipment could be outdated is another issue.
In this issue of SP’s M.A.I., we have reported these incidents and underscored the importance of safety, even as the government has embarked upon military acquisitions. While equipment is the core of any armed force, the other important element is the personnel whose needs and aspirations have to be addressed.
The way forward is through joint ventures, partnerships with foreign companies to get the best of technologies, while developing the defence industrial base. In the interviews in this issue with heads of different companies, it is becoming clearer that these original equipment manufaturers (OEMs) want to enter into strategic partnerships to take their business forward, while acknowledging India’s indigenisation aspirations. The Managing Director of Indra India, Victor Munoz Torres has aptly said that India is hungry for the best systems and that Indra had the requisite wherewithal in terms of skilled human and manufacturing resources and saw huge potential for partnership. Similarly, in another interview the Safran India CEO Stephane Lauret underscores the point of transfer of technology, indicating that OEMs are very clear about the future based on partnerships.
One key point, as indicated by Amit B. Kalyani, Executive Director of Kalyani Group, is that India certainly needs to bring focus back to manufacturing. Defence and aerospace and correct use of offsets can help give the required impetus to manufacturing.
In SP’s Exclusives, we have indicated how the armed forces are stepping on the gas to get the best of equipment from overseas as there have been delays in programmes within the country. A case in point is the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) programme of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which has run into rough weather.
In his frank and forthright viewpoint, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has opined how important internal security is. The nation’s involvement in forthcoming elections has apparently diverted the attention from the accelerating internal security threats. He goes on to add that terrorists would have no compunctions in conducting the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) attacks in India, which can be even more lethal if coupled with suicide bombing. This is no time to be complacent.
Jayant Baranwal Publisher & Editor-in-Chief