In­dia can ex­port fighter planes, mis­siles, says Av­inash Chan­der

The Political and Business Daily - - FRONT PAGE - AJIT K DUBEY

W ITH Prime M in is ter Naren­dra Modi stress­ing on the need for in­creas­ing arms ex­ports, DRDO has said In­dia can sell com­bat air­craft and mis­siles whose pro­duc­tion cost would be "much lower" than some of the weapons sold by coun­tries such as China.

De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) chief Av­inash Chan­der said that the coun­try needs a "pol­icy mech­a­nism" for ex­port­ing weapon sys­tems and the de­fence re­search agency has sug­gested a "sin­gle win­dow clear­ance" for sale of arms to friendly for­eign coun­tries in a time-bound man­ner.

"We have a list of equip­ment that in­cludes the Light Com­bat Air­craft 'Te­jas', ' Akash' air de­fence sys­tem, 'Pra­har' class of mis­siles and 'Brah­Mos' su­per­sonic cruise mis­siles along with a num­ber of sys­tems that can be ex­ported," he told PTI.

"We are dis­cussing the method­ol­ogy for de­vel­op­ing the ex­port po­ten­tial as well as a pol­icy mech­a­nism for ex­port of weapon sys­tems," Chan­der said.

The DRDO chief was asked about a re­cent com­ment by the Prime Min­is­ter that In­dia should pro­duce arms for it­self and also sup­ply them to other na­tions.

Te­jas is a light­weight, multi-role, sin­gle-en­gine tac­ti­cal fighter air­craft. Akash, a sur­face-to-air mis­sile, has a range of 25 kms. Pra­har is a 150 km­range tac­ti­cal mis­sile sys­tem while Brah­Mos is a su­per­sonic cruise mis­sile with a strike range of 290 kms. Asked about the cost­ben­e­fit for coun­tries procur­ing arms from In­dia, Chan­der said, "Many times In­dian weapons are a lot cheaper.

"There are var­i­ous other sys­tems, like if you take strate­gic mis­siles, the long-range mis­siles that China sells to Saudi Ara­bia and the cost at which we pro­duce, it would be one-third or one-fourth," he said.

Chan­der said, "We can talk only about the price at which people sell and what comes out in pub­lished fig­ures about the con­tracts of the day. By that, our pro­duc­tion cost would be much lower. What will be the ex­port cost, that will be the pol­icy de­ci­sion of the govern­ment."

He said for get­ting into the busi­ness of arms ex­ports, the coun­try "needs a frame­work on what can be ex­ported. It de­pends on which coun­try, how to pro­tect mis­use".

He said there are al­ways a num­ber of is­sues re­lated to arms ex­ports which need to be ad­dressed.

"What we are sug­gest­ing is that there should be a sin­gle win­dow clear­ance sys­tem for ex­port of weapons in a time­bound man­ner," the DRDO chief said.

He said sev­eral coun­tries have shown in­ter­est in the Akash mis­sile sys­tem, which was ready to be in­ducted into the Army. Chan­der said there was a scope for ex­port­ing 5001,000 "cost com­pet­i­tive" in­dige­nously de­vel­oped LCA Te­jas com­bat air­craft.

LCAis likely to be ready for in­duc­tion into IAF by the end of this year af­ter at­tain­ing the Fi­nal Op­er­a­tional Clear­ance (FOC).

In­dia de­pends on im­ports for meet­ing more than 65 per cent of its weapons re­quire­ment and has been branded as largest im­porter of arms by in­ter­na­tional think tanks. So far, In­dia has ex­ported only as­sault ri­fles, a few he­li­copters along with some small naval ves­sels to friendly for­eign coun­tries.—

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