MBDA—giv­ing a boost to the In­dian de­fence sec­tor sup­ply chain

SP's MAI - - MILITARY OEMSPEAK - [ By Loïc Piede­vache ]

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s call to US com­pa­nies to par­tic­i­pate in the In­dian de­fence sec­tor has gen­er­ated plenty of eu­pho­ria. This is not very dif­fer­ent from the Prime Min­is­ter sig­nal­ing another boost to in­di­geni­sa­tion prior to em­bark­ing on his trip to Ja­pan; ear­lier decision to man­u­fac­ture medium level mil­i­tary trans­port air­craft in In­dia re­in­forced by decision of man­u­fac­tur­ing light util­ity he­li­copters also in In­dia in­stead of im­port­ing them.

The Modi’ Gov­ern­ment has made it clear that it in­tends to do its ut­most to see In­dia be­com­ing self-re­liant in arms pro­cure­ment. The ‘Make in In­dia’ cam­paign is a clear sig­nal of in­tent and De­fence Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley has al­ready set out his stall along th­ese lines. In achiev­ing this strat­egy, the state sec­tor with its large de­fence pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ings (DPSUs) has a ma­jor part to play but it is clear that even­tual suc­cess will also de­pend on the in­volve­ment of the grow­ing pri­vate sec­tor with its in­her­ent dy­namism. Large In­dian com­pa­nies have al­ready be­gun in­vest­ing heav­ily in view of the new pro­cure­ment trend. They are aim­ing to be well placed to ben­e­fit from the ex­pected boost in de­fence spend­ing that In­dia deems nec­es­sary to con­front the tra­di­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges posed by its neigh­bours. How­ever, and as recog­nised by Prime Min­is­ter Modi in call­ing upon In­dia’s “en­trepreneurs with an en­gi­neer­ing back­ground to set up clus­ters of de­fence units”, the skills of­fered by the small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) will be cru­cial in set­ting up the re­quired in­dus­trial frame­work. Th­ese SMEs are re­quired, par­tic­u­larly in the area of elec­tron­ics, even though small com­pa­nies have tra­di­tion­ally found en­try into the de­fence mar­ket ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult to achieve.

The ques­tion needs to be asked con­cern­ing the cur­rent ca­pa­bil­ity of the pri­vate sec­tor to of­fer the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions nec­es­sary to de­velop and pro­duce the next-gen­er­a­tion of de­fence equip­ment. This is where in­ter­na­tional part­ner­ship en­ters the equa­tion. It is through close part­ner­ships and trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy that the lev­els of know-how gained over many years can be ac­quired to the ben­e­fit of the In­dian de­fence in­dus­trial sec­tor. The In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s re­cent decision to up FDI from its pre­vi­ous 26 per cent to the cur­rent level of 49 per cent is most def­i­nitely a step in the right di­rec­tion as it will serve to build con­fi­dence for in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies to make the nec­es­sary in­vest­ments in In­dia’s in­dus­trial in­fra­struc­ture.

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. This ex­pe­ri­ence has seen MBDA de­vel­op­ing im­por­tant links with the full sup­ply chain be­hind this sta­ple of the In­dian Army.

Un­der­stand­ing the mech­a­nisms of this sup­ply chain has stood MBDA in good stead as re­cent con­tracts are call­ing in­creas­ingly on the skills and in­put of a range of In­dian com­pa­nies, mainly SMEs. MBDA’s off­set pro­gramme re­lated to the weapon pack­age of the Mirage up­grade pro­gramme will in­clude the trans­fer of pro­duc­tion of sev­eral sub-as­sem­blies of MBDA’s MICA air-to-air mis­sile and MICA launch­ers (rail & ejec­tion) in­volv­ing both elec­tronic and me­chan­i­cal do­mains. The above men­tioned di­rect off­set projects, that will see some 80 per cent of both the rail and the ejec­tion launch sys­tems com­po­nents sourced in In­dia, in­volve many high skilled SMEs, mostly the type of SMEs that the In­dian Gov­ern­ment wants to see pros­per, ei­ther di­rectly as a Tier-1 sub­con­trac­tor of MBDA or through the sup­ply chain of a large de­fence pri­vate in­dus­trial company. As well as the mis­sile cas­ing and ca­bles, ad­vanced com­po­nen­try such as the aero­dy­namic servo-con­troller units that al­low the mis­sile to follow the guid­ance tra­jec­tory with the launcher will also be pro­duced by In­dian pri­vate sec­tor SMEs for assem­bly in France.

Dis­cus­sions are cur­rently un­der­way with po­ten­tial sup­pli­ers for the lo­cal sup­ply of el­e­ments for the ASRAAM air dom­i­nance mis­sile that was or­dered as part of the In­dian Air Force’s Jaguar bomber up­grade ear­lier this year. As with MICA, a sig­nif­i­cant part of the launcher’s com­po­nents will also be sourced in In­dia pro­vid­ing a healthy boost to de­fence sec­tor SME rev­enues and ex­pe­ri­ence.

It can be seen that MBDA is of­fer­ing so much more than world lead­ing mis­sile sys­tems. It is also pro­vid­ing much needed tech­ni­cal support to the de­fence in­dus­trial sec­tor. This support is cru­cial if In­dia is to gain ac­cess to world-class tech­nolo­gies and in­dus­trial so­lu­tions that it does not cur­rently pos­sess. That is why the much talked about DRDO-led SRSAM air de­fence pro­gramme is so im­por­tant. It is im­por­tant not only to In­dia’s armed forces but also to the full gamut of the In­dian de­fence in­dus­try struc­ture from the DPSUs such as BDL through to a large num­ber of pri­vate sec­tor SMEs. Us­ing MBDA’s skills ac­quired in de­vel­op­ing sup­ply chains around the world, In­dia’s most able com­pa­nies, of all sizes, will be in­volved in pro­duc­ing the rev­o­lu­tion­ary new mis­sile’s key sub-as­sem­blies in­clud­ing radar and IR seek­ers and the propul­sion sys­tem. In fact some 75 per cent of SRSAM’s con­tract value will go di­rectly to In­dia’s de­fence in­dus­try with the po­ten­tial for sig­nif­i­cantly more once the weapon en­ters the ex­port mar­ket. Of course, ex­port suc­cess will serve to boost pres­tige for In­dia’s de­fence in­dus­try ca­pa­bil­i­ties and prow­ess and foster even greater suc­cess and fi­nan­cial re­turns in the fu­ture. As a sign of how im­por­tant SRSAM is to In­dia’s de­fence in­dus­try plans, Jean-Yves Le Drian (Des­ig­na­tion needs to be men­tioned) has even writ­ten to De­fence Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley un­der­lin­ing the fact that within a few years, the project would en­able In­dia to get “the strate­gic mis­sile au­ton­omy it has been call­ing for”.

MICA IR on Rafale

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.