The Indian Navy has drafted a plan that calls for local industry to help meet the service’s equipment requirements for the next 15 years, an effort the Navy’s chief of materiel calls a win-win situation.
“This would help private domestic industry to conceive and plan production initiatives for meeting naval requirements,” Vice Adm. Pramod Chandra Bhasin said, addressing a meeting of the Navy-Industry Partnership here Dec. 3. The meeting was organized by India’s largest lobbying group, the Confederation of Indian Industries.
This does not implement an official “buy Indian” policy, as local companies will still have to compete with international bidders to gain some orders from the Navy.
But under this plan, the Navy will help domestic companies identify spare parts and systems that they could manufacture for the service in the long run, and the service in turn would show preference to local industry. The Navy also will lend support to industry.
Bhasin noted that while the domestic industry faces stiff international competition to build naval systems, it should be glad to get a slice of the local defense pie, and the Navy for its part would not have to rely on foreign suppliers and the red tape that goes with international contracts.
Bhasin said the new plan, covering 2003-2018, would address immediate requirements as well as future, cutting-edge ideas.
Indian industry now has the chance to benefit from nearly every aspect of naval procurement, from weapons and sensors to maintenance and repair.
Under the first part of the effort, marine engineering, the Navy has invited private firms to pitch ideas for the development and production of propulsion solutions for ships and submarines, machinery control systems, auxiliary equipment and miscellaneous gear, including firefighting equipment, thermal-imaging cameras, protective clothing, acoustic enclosures and infrared separation devices.
For the electrical engineering portion of the plan, the Navy is looking for equipment in areas such as satellite communication systems, satellite navigation, automatic fire-detection systems, navigational radar systems, and command-and-control systems that can be produced locally.
The Indian Navy spends millions of dollars each year on weapons and sensor systems. Under this plan, the funds would bolster local industry and long-term research and development.
The Indian Navy today is completely dependent on steel from overseas sources, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the cost of a warship, Bhasin said.
He added that the Navy today spends nearly $200 million annually on the procurement of machinery and spare parts alone, and nearly $1 billion each year on replacing equipment and weaponry.
Retired Indian Army Lt. Gen. S.K. Bhatnagar, chief adviser at warship equipment-maker Satish Kumar Bhatnagar TIL Ltd., Calcutta, said the concept of an Indian Navy-industry partnership is not adequate to bolster the local defense trade because, even for local companies, the Indian government’s procurement process is still too cumbersome for industry to find much immediate benefit.
Commodore K. Chandra Shekhar, assistant chief of materiel for the Indian Navy, said that bureaucratic hassles and red tape can be reduced through continuous dialogue between the users and the industry.
He said efforts would be made by the Navy to overcome procurement bottlenecks.
The new plan, covering 2003-2018, is broken up into five areas:
* Marine engineering
* Electrical engineering
* Weapons and sensors
* Hull materials
* Other naval equipment