One of the major areas of the negative list of imports being formulated would be several types of ammunition, Master General of Ordnance (MGO) Lt. Gen. S.K. Upadhyay said on Friday.
“None of these ammunition are actually niche technologies. They are of 1970s and 1980s vintage, but they are stable. There will be more than enough opportunities for Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises (MSME) to manufacture ammunition and also in the back end,” Lt. Gen. Upadhyay said at a webinar organised by the Society of Defence Manufacturers (SIDM).’
There was one initiative that started couple of years ago to get some types of ammunition on long-term contract, the MGO said referring to the tender issued in early 2018 to the private sector for the manufacture of eight types of ammunition. Seven companies responded to the tender but the process did not makes any progress. So far, the manufacture of ammunition is done only by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
Lt. Gen. Upadhyay said all the hurdles in that case have been removed. “You will see fast movement. We are looking at adding additional ones [ammunition].”
Defence sources said that in addition, artillery guns were expected to be on the list, as this segment had seen major progress in the last few years with indigenous development like Dhanush and Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) and indigenous manufacture of guns through technology transfer like the M777 Ultra Light Howitzer and the K-9T Vajra tracked self-propelled howitzers. And firms like Bharat Forge have developed a range of artillery guns and are pitching it for the Army.
Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria told The Hindu early this week that some of the areas for indigenous production would be radars, electronics, networking solutions and some weapons. In addition, the IAF is fully backing the indigenous HTT-40 basic trainer under development and would not import any trainer of this.
Last week, announcing a series of measures to promote the indigenous defence industry and reduce the import bill, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said a negative import list of imports would be formulated in consultation with the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and those have to be procured only from domestic industry.Also, a separate provision would be made in the defence budget for domestic capital procurement to encourage domestic manufacturing.