New Delhi: Minister of state for defence production, Rao Inderjit Singh has asked private industry to seize business opportunity in the defence industry even as India gallops towards a developed economy and the armed forces transform into a lean and mean fighting machine.
Addressing an international seminar on Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) here today, the first of its kind in the country, Rao Inderjit cited success stories in private-public partnership in developing weapon systems, notably the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, the Prithvi family of missiles and the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile and Multi-Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRLs).
All this has been made possible since the government threw open defence production to private sector in 2001, he added.
Rao Inderjit further said the government encourages the DRDO and public-private industry to harness synergies and meet the huge potential for the needs of the armed forces.
In an RFP (Request for Proposal) for 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) issued a few months ago, the defence ministry has hiked the ''offset'' value of the contract amount, worth thousands of crores, from the stipulated 30 to 50 per cent for building indigenous capabilities and percolating the benefits to the domestic industry.
In his address, the chief of army staff, General Deepak Kapoor hoped scientists and engineers, based on their experience in designing the Main Battle Tank Arjun, would be able to develop a more versatile AFV for the army''s future needs. He said the Arjun tank took a longer time to build, as it was the first attempt at indigenously developing an integrated and highly sophisticated mobile weapons platform.
Earlier, Lt General KDS Shekhawat, DG (mechanised forces), in his theme-address, emphasized on the need for a compressed timeframe if the vast resources pumped into developing war machines are to retain cutting edge technology.
A large number of Indian and foreign companies participated in the two-day seminar hosted jointly by the directorate general of mechanised forces and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
Mahindra Defence Systems, a subsidiary of leading automobile maker Mahindra and Mahindra, unveiled their Light Specialist Vehicle ''Axe'' on the sidelines of the seminar. A company spokesman said the all-terrain vehicle, which can accommodate six/nine soldiers, would undergo field user trials by the army in Uttarakhand next month. Designed prior to the army''s RFP, the Axe can be shielded against 7.62 mm armoured piercing.
Besides Mahindra, Ford Motors has also showcased its Armoured and Special Purpose Vehicles while TS Kisan and Co. is displaying spares and accessories for T-72 and T-90 tanks and the BMP-II.
Among others, INTEL Design Systems has also put up an array of chips with defence applications.