New Delhi (AP): India on Thursday said it would ramp up its production of military equipment, including helicopters, tank engines, missiles and airborne early warning systems, to offset any potential shortfall from its main supplier Russia.
India depends on Russia for nearly 60% of its defense equipment, and the war in Ukraine has added to doubts about future supplies.
Defense Ministry officials say India, with the world’s second-largest army, fourth-largest air force and seventh-largest navy, can’t sustain itself through imports.
“Our objective is to develop India as a defense manufacturing hub,’’ Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said Thursday while releasing a list of military equipment that will be produced domestically and no longer imported.
The ministry’s website said military orders worth 2,100 billion rupees ($28 billion) are likely to be placed with domestic state-run and private defense manufacturers in the next five years.
Former Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda said that during a visit to India last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin the two sides decided to shift some manufacturing to India to meet its requirements. Imports of helicopters, corvettes, tank engines, missiles and airborne early warning systems will eventually be halted.
“The requirements of the Russian military itself, with the kind of losses that it is suffering, may mean some of those spares that we need will probably get diverted,’’ said Hooda, a retired Indian army general.
To meet its short-term requirements India may consider purchases from former Soviet republics and Warsaw pact countries, the ministry officials said.
Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine could help India with spare supplies for Russian fighter aircraft Sukhois and MiG-29s and with upgrading tanks and armored vehicles as they have similar Soviet-origin platforms and spares, said a ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told his British counterpart Liz Truss during her visit to India last week that there is now an emphasis on “made in India’’ and that “the more collaborative we are, the possibilities of working together are more.“
The two sides discussed ways to strengthen Indo-British defense ties, apparently to reduce India’s strategic dependence on Russia.
India’s Defense Ministry has so far identified a “positive indigenization list’’ of more than 300 items with a timeline for banning imports to help local manufacturers meet the requirements of the armed forces in the coming years.
India’s air force has more than 410 Soviet and Russian fighters with a mix of imported and license-built platforms, including Su30s, MiG-21s and MiG 29s. All require Russian spares and components. India also has Russian submarines, tanks, helicopters, submarines, frigates and
By Ashok Sharma