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Aero India 2023

Time has come for Indian aircraft to fly with indigenously-developed engines: Rajnath Singh


Indian Air Force's Su-30 aircrafts fly past in a formation during the inauguration of Aero India 2023, at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. A PTI Photo

BENGALURU (PTI): India is working on the details of indigenous manufacturing of aero engines to provide a new fillip to the aerospace sector and achieve self-reliance, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said.

In an address at a seminar at the Aero India on Tuesday, he said it is time to ensure that Indian aircraft fly with indigenously-developed engines and underlined the need for focusing on design and development of essential weapon systems within the country.

Separately, in an interaction with top executives of several foreign defence majors, the defence minister urged them to set up manufacturing facilities in India to produce various military hardware and platforms for the world.

He highlighted that India offers significant advantages of competitive land costs, skilled human capital, a vibrant start-up ecosystem and a huge domestic defence market, noting that defence manufacturing companies from across the world can become a part of the Indian growth story.

Singh, at another event, called for joint efforts to develop India as a hub for 'Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)' for various aircraft.

The focus of the Aero India, Asia's biggest aerospace event, is to showcase India's indigenous equipment and technologies and to forge partnerships with foreign companies, in line with 'Make in India, Make for the World' vision of the government.

"The Ministry of Defence is working on the details of indigenous manufacturing of aero-engines to provide a new fillip to the aerospace sector and achieve complete self-reliance," Singh said at the seminar.

He stressed on the need to focus on indigenous design and development of essential weapon systems using niche technologies like Artificial Intelligence, drones, stealth, hypersonic and quantum computing.

Singh exuded confidence that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will soon be able to make quick progress in that direction and adding to its achievements that include 'Prithvi', 'Akash' and 'Agni' missiles.

He commended the DRDO for continuously making headways in the defence and aerospace sector by developing a range of ammunition, guns, radar systems and missiles.

Singh described Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas as a game changer for the aerospace industry.

"A highly-capable aerial platform, LCA Tejas has a commendable record in flight safety which speaks volumes about its quality. Based on its success, the government has now approved LCA-Mk II for the Indian Air Force, while the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter is under consideration for the Indian Navy," he said.

"We have also started moving forward in the path of design and manufacturing of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft in the form of fifth generation stealth aircraft. Whether it is water, land or sky, the DRDO has always been at the forefront in strengthening the security infrastructure," he said.

Singh said the DRDO is no longer just a service provider for defence research and development.

"It is now also a facilitator for in-house industrial R&D, start-ups and private sector labs. There is a need to take advantage of this synergy," he said.

Singh urged the DRDO to set short-term, mid-term and long-term goals and work to build disruptive, cutting-edge or frontier technologies.

"While we are progressing towards becoming one of the strongest countries in the world, we should have strong support for the next level of armed forces capable of facing any new challenge," he said.

In the workshop on 'Sustenance in MRO and Obsolescence Mitigation', Singh listed various initiatives to ensure self-reliance in the IAF, and cited the Akash Weapon System, LCA Tejas, long range surface-to-air missiles and Light Combat Helicopter 'Prachand' as some examples.

He also informed that there would be 160 Prachand helicopters in the Armed Forces in the future.

Singh expressed confidence that these steps would help to reduce external dependence of the armed forces.

"While we should procure the best equipment and systems, our efforts should focus on developing our own equipment and systems to strengthen the Indian Defence sector," he added.

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