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India sets annual defence production target of Rs 3 lakh cr and defence exports worth Rs 50,000 cr by 2028-29


Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addresses the inaugural session of 'Firstpost Defence Summit 2024', in New Delhi. A PTI Photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): In the next four years, India's annual defence production is expected to touch a whopping Rs 3 lakh crore and exports of military hardware is poised to reach Rs 50,000 crore, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, announcing that high-end systems like aero-engines and gas turbines will be produced within the country.

In an address at a defence conclave last Saturday, Singh, delving into structural defence reforms, said the three services used to work in "silos" earlier but now they are ready with better coordination to deal with any challenge jointly.

"Earlier, the three services used to work in silos. We focused on their integration which was an out-of-the-box step and the need of the hour. It was a little difficult in the beginning; but today our military is ready with better coordination to deal with every challenge together," he said at the Firstpost Defence Summit.

Singh noted that the government has been focusing on jointness among the Indian Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force that would ensure enhanced coordination in times of "crisis".

He said India's annual defence production is expected to clock Rs 3 lakh crore and defence exports Rs 50,000 crore. According to latest data, the defence production has crossed Rs one lakh crore mark while the defence exports in 2023-24 has been estimated at around Rs 16,000 crore.

"Earlier, India was known to be an arms importer. But today, under the leadership of the prime minister, we have come out of our comfort zone and found a place in the list of top-25 arms exporter nations," Singh said.

"Seven-eight years ago, defence exports did not even touch Rs 1,000 crore. Today, it has touched Rs 16,000 crore. By 2028-29, annual defence production is expected to touch Rs 3 lakh crore and defence exports Rs 50,000 crore," he added.

The defence minister added that Rs 6.21 lakh crore was allocated to the defence budget for 2024-25.

He said capital acquisition projects worth more than Rs 4,35,000 crore have been given in-principle approval in the financial year 2023-24, and the government is now aiming for production of high-end systems like aero-engines and gas turbines in India in the next five years.

Singh said restrictions on import of arms was difficult in the short-term but the challenge is slowly turning into opportunity, and India is rising on the defence industrial landscape of the world.

"Today, our military is using weapons and platforms, which are manufactured on our own soil," he said.

He asserted that no military can protect its nation from equipment imported from outside and self-reliance in defence production is must for India in today's time, adding the government's persistent efforts have started to bear fruit as the defence production has crossed Rs one lakh crore.

"The government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is focusing on long-term gains and not short-term outcomes to make India a developed nation by 2047," Singh said.

He described "giving priority to long-termism and long-term gains" as the main difference between the present government and the previous dispensations, adding radical changes have been made in the defence sector for long-term gains and achieve the goal of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' (self-reliant India).

On the major steps taken in the field of defence manufacturing, Singh said the his ministry notified five "positive indigenisation lists" of the services, comprising over 500 items, and four other lists, with over 4,600 items for defence public sector undertakings to ensure that the soldiers use made in India weapons and platforms.

He also referred to the decision to earmark 75 per cent of the capital acquisition budget for procurement from local companies.

The defence minister added that some people were of the view that indigenous weapons won't be world class. However, the government believes in the capabilities of the domestic industry and that they can consistently improve and deliver state-of-the-art products, he added.

He enumerated reforms undertaken in the defence sector for long-term gains in the last few years, including creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

Singh said the DMA has enhanced jointness, synergy and smooth coordination among the three services.

He added that Rs 6.21 lakh crore was allocated to the defence budget for 2024-25.

He also spoke of the Agnipath scheme, saying it aims to make the country's military as one of the strongest in the world. "These decisions reflect the government's long-term approach towards national security," he said.

Singh said the government has firmly set its sight to make India a major defence manufacturer.

"When the ability and dedication of our youth is extraordinary and the intentions of the government are clear, the question of setting simple targets does not arise. We will soon embark on an exciting journey towards achieving extraordinary goals," he said.

Singh stated that while the government is supporting huge companies, it is also inviting young ignited minds to the defence sector through start-ups, terming it another step taken for long-term gains.

He said in the coming 20-25 years, these companies, on the back of their innovations, will help give a new dimension to India's strong identity on the global stage.

He referred to the recent meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, in which effective steps were taken to promote start-ups.

For procurement from start-ups, costing, payment terms, eligibility etc have been liberalised, he said.

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