French de­fence in­dus­try wants a share in Make in In­dia pro­gramme

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Ran­jeet Kumar ]

The French de­fence in­dus­try is en­thused over the prospects of par­tic­i­pat­ing in In­dia’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pro­gramme and is in­ter­ested in mak­ing In­dia one of its pro­duc­tion cen­tres. As In­dia plans to ac­quire de­fence equip­ments worth $100 bil­lion dur­ing the next decade, the French de­fence in­dus­try has en­tered into di­a­logues with In­dian pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies for set­ting up joint ven­tures on In­dian soil.

The French de­fence com­pa­nies be­lieve that on the back of their suc­cess­ful en­gage­ment with In­dia over the last five decades, they can es­tab­lish fruit­ful ven­tures worth multi­bil­lion dol­lars here in In­dia. Whether it is sub­marines or land­ing plat­form decks for the In­dian Navy or the short-range sur­face-to-air mis­sile (SRSAM) for the In­dian Army and the In­dian Air Force (IAF); or the How­itzer guns for the In­dian Army, the French are ready to par­tic­i­pate in th­ese pro­grammes.

Un­der the ‘light util­ity’ con­tract, Air­bus He­li­copters has ini­ti­ated search for a re­li­able part­ner, while the world’s lead­ing mis­sile man­u­fac­turer MBDA is look­ing for part­ner­ship with In­dian company for short-range sur­face-to-air mis­sile.

A top MBDA of­fi­cial said that the SRSAMs made in In­dia can be ex­ported world­wide. “We al­ready have a joint part­ner­ship go­ing on with In­dian firms and are look­ing for­ward to deep­en­ing it,” the of­fi­cial added. MBDA is al­ready work­ing with the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) for the SRSAM de­sign named Maitri. MBDA has also pro­posed to DRDO for de­sign and de­vel­op­ment of Akash Mark-II sur­face-to-air mis­sile with a range of 40 km. The Akash mis­sile, which is al­ready un­der in­duc­tion in the IAF, has a range of 25 km.

The head of the bat­tle­field and new co­op­er­a­tion di­vi­sion of MBDA, Jean Paul Faye said that he is ex­pect­ing a decision on the pro­gramme soon. The SRSAMs will have two ver­sions—ship-launched and land-based. The project is un­der gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment

deal and is un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the two gov­ern­ments. Faye said, “MBDA has over 90 cus­tomers world­wide and we will support in its ex­port as we can.” Th­ese SRSAMs are meant for the In­dian Army, Air Force and Navy.

Another MBDA of­fi­cial said, “We have con­tract pre­pared with the DRDO as we have been ne­go­ti­at­ing over six to seven years. The In­dian pro­duc­tion agency will be Bharat Dy­nam­ics Limited (BDL). There will also be work pack­ages for pri­vate in­dus­try un­der this pro­gramme.”

Yet another of­fi­cial stated that “the SRSAM is part of the strate­gic di­a­logue be­tween the French and In­dian gov­ern­ments. We un­der­stand the Make in In­dia strat­egy of the new Naren­dra Modi Gov­ern­ment. In fact we want to build on 50 years of part­ner­ship with In­dia as we have helped BDL pro­duce Mi­lan mis­siles in In­dia. We are also ready to help pro­duce the fifth-gen­er­a­tion anti-tank guided mis­sile (ATGM) in In­dia. We can de­velop the mis­sile in two years with DRDO as de­sign au­thor­ity and can pro­duce 8,000 mis­siles in three years. We have pro­posed th­ese mis­siles to con­tinue the co­op­er­a­tion.” It is worth not­ing that the In­dian Min­istry of De­fence has al­ready de­cided to ac­quire the ATGM Spike from Is­rael which has a range of only 2.5 km whereas In­dia can de­velop beyond 4 km range ATGM in In­dia.

A se­nior of­fi­cial of Nex­ter, the lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers of the how­itzer gun sys­tems, said that the company will re­spond to the In­dian re­quest for in­for­ma­tion (RFI) for mak­ing Cae­sar guns in In­dia in part­ner­ship with Ashok Ley­land and Larsen and Toubro. It is known that the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil has de­cided to is­sue RFP for guns to be made in In­dia un­der the ‘Make In In­dia’ pol­icy. The In­dian Army has pro­posed to the MoD for ac­quir­ing 814 ar­tillery guns worth R 15,570 crore. The In­dian MoD has also pro­posed that 100 such guns will be ac­quired off the shelf, 714 would be made in In­dia in part­ner­ship with the In­dian pri­vate sec­tor company win­ning the ten­der.

Ac­cord­ing to Jian Michel Domitro­vic, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Nex­ter, “It is one of the ma­jor deals that we can have around the world. You can imag­ine that for Nex­ter and our part­ner L&T, it is an im­por­tant project.” Domitro­vic has high ex­pec­ta­tions from the Naren­dra Modi Gov­ern­ment as it takes faster de­ci­sions and they can have bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the ac­qui­si­tion process. The In­dian Army is fac­ing se­ri­ous short­age of how­itzer guns, as th­ese could not be ac­quired over the last two-and-a-half decades. Six ten­ders is­sued till date have been can­celled due to var­i­ous rea­sons.

A top of­fi­cial of the world’s lead­ing sub­ma­rine and war­ships man­u­fac­tur­ing company DCNS said that they have re­sponded to the RFI for six new sub­marines un­der the P-75(I) project of the In­dian Navy. This project could be worth R 50,000 crore. The DCNS has also pro­posed to the MoD the man­u­fac­ture of a land­ing plat­form deck (LPDs) sim­i­lar to French Mis­tral which has a dis­place­ment of 21,000 tonnes. In­dia has is­sued RFI for ac­quir­ing ad­di­tional LPDs. The US Ship Tren­ton (INS Jalashwa) was ac­quired from the US Navy sec­ond hand.

How­ever, the French com­pa­nies want clar­ity and as­sur­ance from the In­dian Gov­ern­ment that their in­vest­ment pro­posal will be fa­cil­i­tated with eased gov­ern­men­tal norms as in de­vel­oped coun­tries. A se­nior of­fi­cial of DCNS Jerome Peni­caud told the vis­it­ing In­dian me­dia in Paris that if his company had op­tions they would rather have pre­ferred to build in their coun­try but we have to adapt to the con­text. Though DCNS is al­ready as­sist­ing In­dian MDL in man­u­fac­tur­ing the Scor­pene sub­marines in In­dia, they are eye­ing the next big ten­ders of the In­dian Navy the Project 75(I) and the R 16,000-crore am­phibi­ous war­ships and the LPDs. DCNS may en­gage with MDL for the next six sub­marines as it is al­ready trans­fer­ring its know-how to MDL for first six sub­marines, the first of which will roll out next year.

DCNS has en­tered into a con­tract with Pi­pavav, the In­dian pri­vate sec­tor ship­yard, for man­u­fac­tur­ing the LPD. Jerome Peni­caud said, “For the LPD project, the idea is that the ships are to be built by one of the In­dian ship­yards that has been se­lected. We are part­ners. We are here to bring the de­sign and nec­es­sary tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance. That is the way we are ad­dress­ing Make in In­dia.”

The Modi Gov­ern­ment had taken a ma­jor decision to in­crease the FDI limit from 26 to 49 per cent in the de­fence sec­tor which Xavier Hay, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Air­bus He­li­copters in In­dia, de­scribed as pos­i­tive and said, “We are look­ing for­ward to any or­der on fur­ther evo­lu­tion on that.” When asked about his views on the ‘Make In In­dia’ pol­icy of the Modi Gov­ern­ment, Hay said, “Let us see how it is struc­tured.” He pointed out that Air­bus He­li­copters al­ready have part­ner­ship with In­dian avi­a­tion gi­ant the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Limited.

MDL is pro­duc­ing six SSK Scor­pene sub­marines (P-75) un­der trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy from DCNS

(Left) Cae­sar self-pro­pelled how­itzer; (Right) MBDA’s Mi­lan por­ta­ble medium-range anti-tank mis­sile sys­tem

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