In an ambitious effort to develop innovative solutions for the three Services in the space domain through the Indian industry and start-ups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched the ‘Mission DefSpace’ at the ongoing DefExpo. He also released the fourth defence indigenisation list which bars import of 101 items after certain timelines.
“Space technology is an example of what security will mean for any strong nation in the future. Various challenges in this area have been reviewed and identified by the three Services. We have to work fast to solve them,” Mr. Modi said. Under Mission Def-Space, 75 challenges are being opened to get innovative solutions, based on the defence requirements in the space domain, the Defence Ministry said.
Stating that space technology is shaping new definitions of India’s generous space diplomacy, giving rise to new possibilities, the Prime Minister stated, “Many African countries and many other small countries are benefiting from this.”
Real-time access to data
There are more than 60 developing countries with whom India is sharing its space science. “The South Asia satellite is an effective example of this. By next year, 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries will also get real-time access to India’s satellite data. Even developed countries like Europe and America are using our satellite data,“ he stated.
Explaining the significance, Lt. Gen. A.K. Bhatt (retd.), Director General of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), said this was the first time an opportunity was being given to the private industry in the defence space sector. “Defence space challenges, which have been worked with the Services, Ministry of Defence (MoD), along with private industry and the ISpA, are primarily aimed at making a range of defence applications to enhance the capability of the three Services,” he stated.
One senior official explained that the effort is not meant to develop offensive capabilities in space but to build technology enablers for the Services.
As part of efforts to boost the domestic defence industry and promote defence exports, the Defence Ministry had earlier promulgated first, second and third Positive Indigenisation Lists, comprising 310 items on August 21, 2020, May 31, 2021 and April 7, 2022 respectively. The items on the lists cannot be imported by the Services and should be sourced from within the country.
The fourth list has been prepared by the MoD after several rounds of consultations with all stakeholders, including the industry, the Ministry said in a statement. “It lays special focus on equipment/systems, which are being developed and likely to translate into firm orders in the next five to 10 years,”
Like the first three lists, import substitution of ammunition which is a recurring requirement has been given special focus, the Ministry stated.
The items listed in the fourth list will provide ample visibility and opportunity to the domestic defence industry for understanding the trend and futuristic needs of the armed forces and create requisite research and development and manufacturing capacity within the country. the Ministry added.
Mr. Modi unveiled the HTT-40 indigenous trainer aircraft designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at the India Pavilion during the Expo. The Cabinet Committee on Security is expected to give its final approval for procurement of these trainers for the Air Force.
This edition of the Expo has more than 1,300 exhibitors including over 100 start-ups.
The 2nd Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave will be held during the Expo. “Today, from international security to global trade, maritime security has emerged as a global priority. The role of the merchant navy has also expanded in the era of globalisation,” Mr. Modi said referring to it.
Mr. Modi also laid the foundation stone for the Deesa airfield in Gujarat which will be a forward Air Force base. He said the forward airforce base would add to the security architecture of the country. He said India was now better prepared to respond to any misadventure on the western borders. “After coming to the government, we decided to set up an operational base in Deesa, and this expectation of our forces is being fulfilled today. This region will now become an effective centre of security of the country”, the Prime Minister added.