Home » India Eyes 50,000 Cr. Defense Exports By 2028-29; Modi’s Make-In-India Magic Turning It Around For Delhi

India Eyes 50,000 Cr. Defense Exports By 2028-29; Modi’s Make-In-India Magic Turning It Around For Delhi


OPED By Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd)

India’s defense exports crossed ₹21,000 crores, approximately $2.7 billion, for the first time, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced on April 01. It was a spectacular growth of 32.5% over the previous fiscal.

The Minister added that defense exports have grown 31 times in the past ten years compared to FY 2013-14. The growth reflected the global acceptability of Indian defense products and technologies.

The private sector and the DPSUs contributed about 60% and 40%, respectively. India’s interim defense budget for 2024-25 was Rs 6,21,541 crore (approx $75 billion). Rs 1.72 lakh crore (27.67%) was for capital acquisition, 75% of which has to be spent on made-in-India capital purchases.

The ongoing conflict in Europe and West Asia has exposed defense production capacities, surge production capabilities and limitations, and supply chain dynamics. India remains among the top arms importers. Self-sufficiency in arms production has become highly desirable and a must for India if it has to sit on the global high table.

PM Modi-led Indian government had realized early and pushed “Atmanirbharta.” Make-in-India derives the highest returns in defense production as the technologies are not easily shared. India has two nuclear-armed neighbors with both. India has somewhat hostile relations and has fought wars.

The need for modernizing security forces to tackle emerging threats can’t be overemphasized. Increasing defense production requires a whole national approach.

Economic growth remains the starting point. India’s foreign trade policy aims for significant growth by 2030. The export of dual-use goods and technologies is identified as a crucial driver.

India has been a very responsible member that strictly follows the non-proliferation norms. India must increase its R&D spending and seek partnerships with friendly foreign countries.

Whole Nation Approach

Credit for India’s defense exports success must go to the Government of India (GoI) for driving and facilitating defense production and exports, and no less, to the around 50 major Indian public and private sector companies and hundreds of MSMEs who played a pivotal role.

It required considerable innovation and meeting global quality standards. The GoI has set up the Tech Development Fund and funding Innovation for Defence Excellence (IDEX).

Defense exports reached across geographical regions to countries such as Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, UAE, Poland, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Egypt, Israel, Spain, and Chile, among others.

Among the major defense items being exported or to be exported are choppers, missiles, aircraft avionics, offshore patrol vehicles, coastal surveillance systems, personal protective items, light engineering mechanical parts, and aircraft protection systems, among others.

Significant Armed Forces Interaction & Support

Indian armed forces are very actively supporting indigenization. Army Technology Board (ATB), Army Design Bureau (ADB), Naval Design Bureau, and IAF’s Directorate of Indigenisation interface with the academia and industry for their requirements.

Service operational requirements and specifications are being jointly evolved and discussed with private players.

A few big private industrial houses are now well-established in aircraft defense manufacturing. Tata Aerospace and Defence have been making the combat helicopter fuselage for Boeing AH-64 Apache combat helicopter and aero-structures for Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

All Lockheed C-130Js delivered to customers worldwide have major aero-structure components from India. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, also relies on Hyderabad-based Tata Advanced System Limited (TASL) to manufacture its global supply of cabins for the S-92 helicopter.

Tata Group is working with GE to manufacture CFM International LEAP engine components in India. Lockheed Martin selected TASL to produce F-16 wings in India.

Many private companies are making defense electronics, large aero components, advanced technology components, and sub-systems. Dynamatic Technologies makes assemblies of vertical fins for Sukhoi 30 MKI fighters.

They also supply aero-structures to Airbus for its A320 family of aircraft and the wide-body 330 aircraft. Hyderabad’s VEM Technologies manufactures center fuselage for LCA Tejas. Many Indian MSMEs and start-ups are entering defense production.

Recent Foreign Orders For Indian Companies

The Philippines has begun receiving Indian-built BrahMos cruise missiles as part of the initial $375 million contract, India’s largest defense export order ever.

Airbus awarded TASL a contract for aircraft cargo doors. Dynamatic Technologies signed a long-term contract with Dassault to manufacture and assemble Flight Critical Aerostructures for Falcon aircraft. They also secured a contract to build doors for Airbus A220 Aircraft.

Rolls-Royce signed a contract with Azad Engineering to make complex defense aero-engine components in India. Munitions India signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia for artillery ammunition. Indian firms have also signed deals with Armenia, which is looking to thwart Azeri aggression with the backing of Turkey.

File Image: BrahMos Missile. Via: Indian Navy

Recent Domestic Orders     

In April 2024, MoD issued ₹65,000 crore ($8.1 billion) tender to HAL for 97 Tejas Mark 1A fighter jets. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) will build 14 Fast Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard. Cochin Shipyard will make a hybrid wind farm service vessel.

MoD placed an order on BEL for 11 Shakti Electronic Warfare Systems for the Indian Navy. AWEIL got an order for 463 Stabilized Remote-Control Guns for the Indian Navy & Indian Coast Guard and will supply 30mm AK 630 Naval guns.

Digitronics is making DC-DC converters and EMI filters for the Tejas Mk1 aircraft. ARC Ventures got an Indian Army contract for robotic MULES. Paras Defence got an order for optronic periscopes. Jindal JSW group will manufacture and supply 96 Specialist Mobility Vehicles (SMVs) for the Indian Army. Zen Technologies got orders for tactical training simulators.

Recent Defence Investments in India

PM Modi inaugurated a new state-of-the-art Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center campus in Bengaluru. Israeli chipmaker Tower Semiconductor will set up a fabrication plant worth $8 billion in India. Kalyani Group plans to establish a titanium metal and aerospace components manufacturing facility in Odisha.

Recent Major DRDO Projects & Successes

DRDO recently tested the 155×52 ATAGS by installing it on BEML’s lighter armored truck. Indian Army issued a request for information (RFI) in April 2021 to procure 354 locally manufactured light tanks for deployment in challenging terrain.

DRDO’s Zorawar light tank is expected to be ready for user trials soon. L&T is likely to produce and supply 59 Zorawar light tanks.

ADE is developing a new MALE class UAV called the Archer-NG. The first flight is expected by mid-2024. India is all set to test the indigenous 500-km range submarine-launched cruise missile that will go on to the indigenous submarines under Project 75 (India) by the Indian Navy.

India recently demonstrated MIRV capability on Agni-V, which has a range of 5000 km.

DRDO is close to success in surface and airborne Directed Energy Weapons (DEW). DRDO is also at the advanced stage of indigenous AESA radar for Su-30MKI.

DRDO anti-drone technology is ready for production by BEL and the private sector. DRDO’s DATRAN 1500 HP engine prototype for the DRDO’s Futuristic Main Battle Tank (FMBT) is getting ready.

Su-30MKI firing the BrahMos-A missile (via Platform X)

Major Defence Joint Ventures & Collaborations

Mahindra Defence and DRDO will jointly develop an 8×8 wheeled CBRN for the Indian Army. Bharat Forge and DRDO will jointly make indigenous 105mm guns. Paninian Aerospace & Defence has signed a strategic partnership with Godrej Aerospace to leverage their combined expertise to accelerate the design and development of Gas Turbine Engines for both aerospace and naval applications.

IIT Madras is partnering with Munitions India for indigenous 155mm smart ammunition. Jindal Advanced Materials (JAM) signed a MoU with the Tamil Nadu government to set up a new manufacturing plant in Trichy.

PTC Industries and HAL tied up for the indigenization of aviation components. Jindal Stainless signed an MoU with MSME Tech for manufacturing missiles & rocket launchers.

GRSE entered into a long-term agreement with Hindalco to procure high-quality aluminum plates and extrusions. Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune, supports Hyderabad-based Dvipa Armour India Private Limited (DAIPL), to develop an indigenous assault rifle named ‘Ugram.’

Major Foreign Joint Ventures & Collaborations

Airbus and Tata Group are making a helicopter manufacturing hub in India. MDL and ATLA Japan look at undersea platforms and robotics collaboration. Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE) and Rolls Royce partnered for advanced marine engineering production.

MIDHANI offers critical materials needed for manufacturing aircraft engines and aerospace vehicles and will be a major supplier for US-based GE Aerospace manufacturing F414 fighter jet engines in India.

The recent INDUS-X Summit in New Delhi was meant to support strategic technology partnerships and defense industrial cooperation between India and the USA. India and France agreed to adopt the Defence Industrial Roadmap and explore opportunities for partnership in the defense industrial sector.

During Rajnath Singh’s recent UK visit, there was a discussion on the 6th generation “TEMPEST” aircraft project. DRDO and the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) will collaborate more in research and development. Germany and India want to foster closer defense partnerships, with a particular emphasis on defense technology.

Netherlands and India are looking to expand their bilateral defense cooperation, particularly in maritime and industrial domains, and Dutch OEMs could integrate Indian vendors into their supply chains.

India and South Korea are exploring cooperation in emerging technologies and semiconductors. Defence remains the most important collaboration with Brazil. Embraer and Mahindra have joined to offer the C-390 Millennium multi-mission aircraft to the IAF.

Oman is interested in working with India in shipbuilding & MRO. India and Greece have agreed to escalate their bilateral trade with defense as a priority area. Poland is looking forward to working with India to service Russian-built weapons like the T-90 and T-72 tanks. Italy and India recently elevated their bilateral relations to a strategic level.

Navantia, Spain’s state-owned shipyard, has expressed interest in supplying the Indian Navy with the multi-purpose 26,000-ton LDP amphibious assault ship of the Juan Carlos I class on a Make-in-India basis and technology transfer.

India has supported a loan for Guyana to acquire two Indian-made Dornier Do-228 aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Jeh Aerospace has opened a 160,000 sq. ft manufacturing hub in Hyderabad to provide manufacturing solutions to the aerospace and defense industry. It received $2.75 million in seed funding from Silicon Valley-based General Catalyst.

Hisar (Haryana) based JD Taurus, a JV between Jindal Defence Systems Private Limited (JDSPL) and Brazil-based global leader Taurus Armas S.A, has begun manufacturing pistols and revolvers, among many other small arms. The plant has an annual production capacity of up to 250,000 weapons.

Skydio, a leading American drone manufacturer with an R&D center in Bengaluru, has partnered with Indian firm Aeroarc to manufacture UAVs for defense customers in the Indo-Pacific region.

In addition to manufacturing the GE-F414 engine in India, GE plans to set up an MRO facility for the F404-GE-IN20 engine of the LCA-Tejas Mk1 variants. Thales plans to establish an avionics MRO facility in Delhi. Both will have an Indian partner.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Tejas LCA Mk1A jet cockpit. (Twitter)

Other Important Indigenisation Efforts

Meanwhile, Indian armed forces plan to procure 91 Israeli Heron Mark 2 UAVs (27 for the Army, 22 for the Navy, and 42 for the IAF). The INR 30,000 crore ($3.7B) UAVs will be partly or wholly made in India or assembled here.

Adani Defence and Aerospace unveiled its indigenously manufactured Drishti 10 Starliner UAV for ISR operations of the Indian Navy. The company has also started South Asia’s largest ammunition & missiles complex in Kanpur, at a 500-acre facility. They will produce a diverse range of high-quality ammunition for the armed forces, paramilitary forces, and police and meet nearly 25% of India’s annual requirements.

Bharat Forge recently acquired a 51% stake in the Indian arm of Ukrainian firm Zorya Mashproekt. The company’s gas turbine power plants are used in all Indian Navy destroyers and the Talwar class frigates.

Nibe Limited has opened a 250,000 sq.m plant in Pune focusing on producing critical systems for the defense sector, including heavy engineering structures for Medium-Range Surface-To-Air Missile (MRSAM).

Nagpur-based Solar Industries India Limited, which is big in industrial explosives and has manufacturing facilities in many countries, has demonstrated the Bhargavastra anti-drone and swarm system.

DG Propulsion Pvt Ltd successfully completed demo test runs on DG J 40 small jet engine meant for UAVs. Garuda Aerospace has become the first company in India to get dual certification for training and manufacturing small and medium-class drones.

IAF had awarded a Rs 300 Crore ($37M) contract to Veda Aeronautics under the IAF’s Mehar Baba Swarm Drone Competition.

The Space start-up Pixxel recently launched its satellite manufacturing unit in Bengaluru, where it can assemble, integrate, and test 40 satellites weighing 100 kilograms every year. Pixxel plans to launch a series of small, home-built satellites, “Fireflies,” with five-meter resolution hyper-spectral imagery starting in June.

The first spy satellite in India to be made by TASL is set to be launched in a SpaceX rocket in May 2024. Bellatrix Aerospace has announced the successful testing of its rocket propulsion systems, which were entirely developed in-house. Rudra and Arka propulsion systems were launched on board ISRO’s PSLV C-58 launch vehicle on January 01, 2024.

Academia Supporting Defence Indigenisation

IIT Mandi is developing a Quantum computer that will use photons for computing. IIT-Madras is building a world-class facility for ocean engineering and maritime technology. IIT Jammu is working on anti-drone systems. IIT Kanpur has created India’s first hypervelocity expansion tunnel test facility (S2), which DRDO and ISRO will use.

IIT Guwahati is working on semiconductors. IIT Jodhpur is making a 3D-printed hybrid UAV prototype for all domains. IIIT-B Bangalore and the Software Development Institute (SDI) of the IAF are collaborating on defense software. Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) Chandigarh and HAL have established a Centre of Excellence for Avionics.

Highest Level Push & Way Ahead

The evolving global security environment and India’s global power aspirations underscore the imperative need for India to fortify its defense production capabilities and foster self-reliance. India’s defense exports were now at an all-time high and growing rapidly.

New Delhi has set a target of Rs 35,000 crore ($4.5B) in defense exports by 2025 and 50,000 crores ($6.2B) by 2028-29. The defense production targets are Rs 1.75 lakh crore by 2025 and Rs 3 lakh crore by 2028-29.

The government aims to manufacture high-end systems like aero-engines & gas turbines in India in the next five years. The figures are highly achievable with a little effort.

  • Air Marshal Anil Chopra (Retired) is an Indian Air Force veteran fighter test pilot and is the former Director-General of the Center for Air Power Studies in New Delhi. He has been decorated with gallantry and distinguished service medals while serving in the IAF for 40 years. He tweets @Chopsyturvey 
  • Follow EurAsian Times on Google News
What’s your Reaction?

Leave a Comment

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
You can enter the Tamil word or English word but not both
Anti-Spam Image