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Can’t afford to have operational voids when enemy is at the gates: Gen. Naravane

Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane. File   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Army Chief Gen Manoj Naravane on Thursday said that considering the quick pace of defence modernisation being undertaken by the adversaries, the country was lagging behind slightly. Continued heavy dependence of the armed forces on imports needed to be addressed through indigenous capability development. However, one cannot afford to have “operational voids when the enemy is at the gates”, he noted.

“An important issue one needs to keep in mind is that indigenous development alone cannot fill the existing... and operational voids due to lack of niche technology and manufacturing capability. Hence, there may be some inescapable need on certain percentage of imports. One cannot afford to have operational voids when the enemy is at the gates,” he said at an event to commemorate ‘25 years of Army-Industry partnership’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

He said 2020 was a unique year with twin challenges- the COVID-19 pandemic and the “belligerence on our northern borders.” The events of the past year have brought to the fore the vulnerability of global supply chains, underscoring the need for self-reliance.

Vulnerabilities

External dependence on weapons and ammunition created vulnerabilities in times of crisis. In the past few years there had been an effort to reverse this trend by boosting indigenisation and focusing on dual-use high-end technology. “We are committed to procuring indigenous equipment and weapon systems, as nothing is more motivating for any Army than to fight and win its wars with indigenous technologies and weapons,” he said.

In this regard, Gen. Naravane called for greater flexibility in the interpretation of the procurement process to speed up the process. “The need of the hour today is not just a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), to fight the modern day war. A Revolution in Bureaucratic Affairs (RBA) is also required to fast track relevant and future capability development,” he pointed out.

Seventy-five percent of the Army’s Priority-1 projects in the 13th Army Plan, costing over ₹1.5 lakh crore were marked for Make in India programmes, he noted.

Private sector role

Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D, and Chairman, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), said the capability of the private industry had significantly gone up over the years. “Today, 85-87% of the Akash air defence systems by value are coming from the private industry,” he stated. Similarly, a majority of the components for indigenous radars were also being supplied by the private sector.

The DRDO had 1,800 private industries as Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers and more than 10,000 industries at the Tier-3 level. It was trying to indigenise spares and components for all major systems like SU-30MKI fighters, T-90 and T-72 tanks in collaboration with industry through the Technology Development Fund, he added.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 2:16:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cant-afford-to-have-operational-voids-when-enemy-is-at-the-gates-gen-naravane/article33627211.ece

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