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India can export fighter planes, missiles: DRDO chief

LCA Tejas.

NEW DELHI (PTI): With Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressing on the need for increasing arms exports, DRDO has said India can sell combat aircraft and missiles whose production cost would be "much lower" than some of the weapons sold by countries such as China.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Avinash Chander said that the country needs a "policy mechanism" for exporting weapon systems and the defence research agency has suggested a "single window clearance" for sale of arms to friendly foreign countries in a time-bound manner.

"We have a list of equipment that includes the Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas', 'Akash' air defence system, 'Prahar' class of missiles and 'BRAHMOS' supersonic cruise missiles along with a number of systems that can be exported," he told PTI.

"We are discussing the methodology for developing the export potential as well as a policy mechanism for export of weapon systems," Chander said.

The DRDO chief was asked about a recent comment by the Prime Minister that India should produce arms for itself and also supply them to other nations.

Tejas is a lightweight, multi-role, single-engine tactical fighter aircraft. Akash, a surface-to-air missile, has a range of 25 kms.

Prahar is a 150 km-range tactical missile system while BRAHMOS is a supersonic cruise missile with a strike range of 290 kms.

Asked about the cost-benefit for countries procuring arms from India, Chander said, "Many times Indian weapons are a lot cheaper.

"There are various other systems, like if you take strategic missiles, the long-range missiles that China sells to Saudi Arabia and the cost at which we produce, it would be one-third or one-fourth," he said.

Chander said, "We can talk only about the price at which people sell and what comes out in published figures about the contracts of the day. By that, our production cost would be much lower. What will be the export cost will be the policy decision of the Government."

He said for getting into the business of arms exports, the country "needs a framework on what can be exported. It depends on which country, how to protect misuse".

He said there are always a number of issues related to arms exports which need to be addressed.

"What we are suggesting is that there should be a single window clearance system for export of weapons in a timebound manner," the DRDO chief said.

He said several countries have shown interest in the Akash missile system, which was ready to be inducted into the Army.

Chander said there was a scope for exporting 500-1,000 "cost competitive" indigenously developed LCA Tejas combat aircraft.

LCA is likely to be ready for induction into IAF by the end of this year after attaining the Final Operational Clearance (FOC).

India depends on imports for meeting more than 65 per cent of its weapons requirement and has been branded as largest importer of arms by international think tanks.

So far, India has exported only assault rifles, a few helicopters along with some small naval vessels to friendly foreign countries.


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