Rajnath Singh approves nearly Rs 499 cr for innovations in defence sector

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved budgetary support of nearly Rs 499 crore for research and innovation in the defence sector for the next five years.

The Defence Ministry on Sunday said the funds will be used to provide financial support to nearly 300 start-ups, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and individual innovators with a larger goal of ensuring self-reliance in the defence sector.

The scheme is in sync with the government's push to cut imports of military hardware and weapons and make India a hub for defence manufacturing.

"Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX)-Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years," a ministry statementsaid.

It said the iDEX-DIO has primary objective of self-reliance and indigenisation in the defence and aerospace sector. The ministry said the setting up of iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at creating an ecosystem to foster innovation and technology development in the defence and aerospace sector.

"The scheme, with budgetary support of Rs 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups/MSMEs/individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework," the ministry said.

It said the DIO will enable the creation of channels for innovators to engage and interact with the Indian defence production industry.

"The scheme aims to facilitate rapid development of new, indigenised and innovative technologies for the Indian defence and aerospace sector to meet their needs in shorter timelines," it said.

In the last couple of years, the government has unveiled a series of reform measures and initiatives to make India a hub of defence manufacturing.

Last August, Defence Minister Singh had announced that India will stop the import of 101 weapons and military platforms like transport aircraft, light combat helicopters, conventional submarines, cruise missiles and sonar systems by 2024.

A second negative list, putting import restrictions on 108 military weapons and systems such as next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning systems, tank engines and radars, was issued this week.

In May last, the government announced increasing the FDI limit from 49 per cent to 74 per cent under the automatic route in the defence sector.

India is one of the largest importers of arms globally. The government now wants to reduce dependence on imported military platforms and has decided to support domestic defence manufacturing.

The ministry has set a goal of a turnover of USD 25 billion (Rs 1.75 lakh crore) in defence manufacturing in the next five years that included an export target of USD 5 billion (Rs 35,000 crore) worth of military hardware.

First three nuke submarines to be 95% made in India

In what would be a major boost for the submarine building capability within the country, the first three nuclear attack submarines to be built indigenously would be having 95 per cent Made in India content in them and it would further go up in the next three. The Cabinet Committee on Security is considering a proposal worth around Rs 50,000 crore for indigenously building three nuclear attack submarines which would be built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). This project is separate from the Arihant class project under which six nuclear submarines are being built with the capability of launching ballistic missiles.

"The nuclear attack submarine project would be a big boost for the indigenous submarine capability as 95 per cent of it would be made in India. This would provide a big boost to the domestic defence sector including both private and public sector," government sources told ANI.

For the six nuclear attack submarines, the planners are confident that they would be able to complete the project without any external help but if required, they may take help of one of its strategic partner countries, they said.

The project would also be very helpful for the economy as it is expected to generate a large number of jobs in the defence sector, the sources said.

The Navy and DRDO would first get a clearance for three of these boats and will have the option of building three more after the completion of this project. The Indian Navy proposal to have six indigenous nuclear attack submarines was one of the first few major defence modernisation proposals to have been cleared by the Narendra Modi government soon after it came to power in 2014.

Even though marred by some delays, India has been making big headways in the field of indigenous submarine building capability. The first Arihant class boat was commissioned a few years ago and the second one INS Arighat is also undergoing sea trials and is expected to be commissioned in near future.

India has plans of building 24 submarines including six nuclear attack ones which would give it long legs to operate in the Indian Ocean Region and will help it to keep its adversaries in check at long distances.

The first six conventional boats are already under construction in Mumbai under the Kalavati class project while the tender for the next six with greater capability would be issued soon after recent clearance by the Defence Ministry. There is a plan to build six more conventional submarines under the Project 76 but it will take a long time to be initiated.

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