Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will manufacture helicopters for the Indian armed forces at its new unit near Tumkuru and the first helicopter manufactured at the new factory should be airborne in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said after laying the foundation stone for the Rs5,000-crore unit.
The greenfield project at Biderehalla Kaval village, near Tumakuru, planned on a global scale, will start making 600 Helicopters in 15 years, he said, while asserting that localised production is essential for securing India's defence capabilities.
Laying the foundation stone for the new project, the prime minister said, ''Self-reliance in the area of security needs is crucial. We have to make our own weapons and 'Make in India' is a step towards achieving it.''
''If India has to be self-reliant in its security requirements, our armed forces need the latest and modern equipment. We have to make our own weapons.
''Making weapons in India rather than importing them is our motto and it is the backbone of our 'Made in India' programme,'' Modi said, adding that the country spends crores of rupees to import defence equipment but receives relatively outdated technology and equipment.
''If we buy in 2016 we get delivery not earlier than 2020.''
''At present we import weapons from other countries to equip our armed forces…Now, we have made it a policy that before striking a deal for weapons, the government puts in a condition in the agreement to make a part of the weapons in India,'' he explained.
India, he said was making defence purchases worth billions of dollars and it was only fair for the country to expect these crucial and critical equipments were made in India. Many suppliers were willing to produce in India.
''A facility like this will not only strengthen the armed forces, but also realise the dreams of Babasaheb Ambedkar, who was a champion of industrialisation,'' he added.
Acknowledging Karnataka government's cooperation in providing land for the helicopter unit, Modi said the centre will be investing Rs5,000 crore for the unit, which in turn will provide 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said the state has taken steps to get the project implemented at a fast pace. Some 610 acres of government land has been allotted and transferred at a concessional rate of Rs1 lakh an acre, he added.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar said the HAL facility will make helicopters for both transport and defence needs.