MBDA, un­lock­ing the ‘Make in In­dia’ strat­egy

SP's MAI - - MILITARY OEMSPEAK - [ By Loïc Piede­vache ] The writer is Coun­try Head (In­dia Op­er­a­tions), MBDA Group.

Acoun­try of In­dia’s stature in terms of eco­nomic strength and geopo­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance clearly can­not af­ford to be over-re­liant on over­seas de­fence equip­ment sup­pli­ers. In this re­spect, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pol­icy is in­tended to pre­pare the way for In­dian in­dus­try to start de­vel­op­ing and ex­ploit­ing the nec­es­sary high tech­nol­ogy skills that will serve to de­velop and pro­duce the guided weapons sys­tems that In­dia’s armed forces need.

How­ever, cre­at­ing a mil­i­tary in­dus­trial struc­ture ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing In­dia with the strate­gic mis­sile au­ton­omy it has been call­ing as it re­quires a new mind­set and the in­volve­ment of not only the de­fence pub­lic sec­tor Un­der­tak­ings (DPSUs) but also the pri­vate sec­tor in­clud­ing dy­namic, tech­nol­ogy SMEs. It will also re­quire the in­put of es­tab­lished in­dus­trial lead­ers who have years of ex­pe­ri­ence and the most ad­vanced lev­els of tech­nol­ogy that they are will­ing to share with In­dian part­ners.

MBDA, as is well known, has been work­ing with In­dian de­fence in­dus­try for well over 50 years with its Mi­lan ATGM be­ing man­u­fac­tured un­der li­cence by BDL. Re­cent con­tracts such as the MICA and ASRAAM air-to-air mis­siles or­dered for the IAF’s Mirage and Jaguar up­grade pro­grammes re­spec­tively will fur­ther serve to pro­mote an In­dian de­fence tech­nol­ogy sup­ply chain through the as­so­ci­ated off­sets.

Off­sets alone will not give the re­quired boost to see ‘ Make In In­dia’ re­ally start to bear fruit in the short term. What is re­quired is the trans­fer of the high­est lev­els of guided weapon tech­nol­ogy. This is ex­actly what MBDA has been dis­cussing with In­dia re­gard­ing two pro­grammes—SRSAM and a fifth­gen­er­a­tion ATGM. SRSAM, led by the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) as de­sign au­thor­ity, has al­ready been ap­proved by the In­dian au­thor­i­ties but is still wait­ing a fi­nal go ahead.

SRSAM is cru­cial not only as a crit­i­cal op­er­a­tional re­quire­ment but also for what it means to the fu­ture of the In­dian de­fence in­dus­trial sec­tor. Some 80 per cent of the mis­sile con­tent will be made in In­dia and what is more, the French Gov­ern­ment has ap­proved an un­prece­dented level of tech­nol­ogy trans­fer. This will see In­dia gain ac­cess to key seeker and hot launch tech­nolo­gies as well as au­to­mated pro­duc­tion line know-how that will serve In­dia well re­gard­ing its own fu­ture in­dige­nous ca­pa­bil­ity to de­velop and pro­duce guided mis­siles. In ad­di­tion, pro­jected ex­ports for a mis­sile that would meet the needs of sev­eral other coun­tries’ armed forces are cal­cu­lated at be­ing far greater than the ac­tual SRSAM con­tract cost. So not only would In­dia gain im­por­tant hard cur­rency rev­enues, it would see its global pres­tige as a sup­plier of lead­ing edge equip­ment grow while pro­vid­ing the scale of pro­duc­tion through­put that would see fa­cil­i­ties, small and large in In­dia ben­e­fit.

Build­ing on this SRSAM model, MBDA has also been dis­cussing a new gen­er­a­tion fam­ily of ATGM which, though based on the MMP weapon cur­rently be­ing de­vel­oped for the French Army, would be de­vel­oped by the DRDO and wholly pro­duced in In­dia. The tech­nol­ogy trans­fer in­volved would see In­dia ca­pa­ble of mass pro­duc­ing in as lit­tle as three years, a fam­ily of ATGM mis­siles (with ranges and tar­get sets aligned to pre­cise In­dian needs) which far ex­ceeds the older gen­er­a­tion of weapons such as Javelin and Spike. Clearly ‘Make In In­dia’ has much to gain from SRSAM and ATGM, two projects that will open the door to In­dian in­dus­try, giv­ing it the kick start that will reap div­i­dends in the years to come.

Mi­lan ATGM

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