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HAL to focus more on reducing its import dependence

The state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which is the mainstay of the Indian Air Force, has done well in reducing by at least 8 per cent in its turnover of imported components in the last four years, said Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Department of Defence Production.

On a turnover of ₹ 18,000 cr during fiscal 2017-18, it’s indigenisation portion of imported products was 41 per cent. In 2014-15, the indigenisation was 49 per cent.

To face threats from cyber security, reduce costs of production and beef up our own fire power it is essential to have our own products through higher indigenisation. In this direction, the HAL and other PSUs have a greater role, Ajay Kumar said.

His remarks at the Aeronautical Society of India meeting here assumed significance in the background of the HAL coming under criticism from the Union Minister with reference to the controversial Rafale fighter aircraft deal with Dassault in terms of capability.

During the FY 2017-18, HAL has produced 40 new aircraft/helicopters and 105 new engines. It has also carried out overhaul of 220 aircraft/ helicopters and 550 engines, according to the BSE release.

In the overall defence & aerospace sector, the percentage of imported components has dropped to 23 per cent in 2017-18 from 29 per cent in 2014-15. However, the number of products to be indigenised has risen to 76.000 items from 50,000 items. Ajay Kumar said.

“We will be vulnerable as long as our dependence is high on imported products. At present, our platforms are imported predominantly from Russia, US, France and a little from Israel”, the Secretary, Defence production said.

India-Russia deal
One positive fallout of the recent deal with Russia was the agreement that Russia will help indigenously produce a large of platforms and components of defence products. The two countries signed the nearly $5-billion worth S-400 air defence shield system to be acquired from Russia.

Atleast 15 B2B agreements were signed between the two countries to make products in India. He cited the example of a Hyderabad-based company, Ananth Technologies, to manufacture products for the MI helicopter.


Catch up game, no use ::

Ajay Kumar said the present ‘Catch up game’ in ingenisation will not help. we normally import technology of 8-10 years old, by the time we indigenise, the new technology will be ready. Our policy has to change, he added.

In this context, he mentioned that a policy with these critical aspects in mind and the future demands was under finalisation for the defence & aerospace. He said it is at the draft stage and under discussion.

Earlier, the Secretary, Defence R&D, G Satish Reddy in his welcome address emphasised the need for skill development and building expertise in cyber technology and security aspects. He wanted greater focus on indigenous technology development.

The Bengaluru headquartered, public sector unit produces a wide range of defence platforms, components and own helicopters, fighter aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

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