Self-reliance in small arms manufacturing is a necessity – Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to CISC

New Delhi: Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to The Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC), Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff, today said that self-reliance in the small arms sector is fundamentally necessary for the nation in the long run.

Speaking at ‘International Conference on Small Arms: From Current Paradigm on Small Arms to Next Level’, organized by FICCI, jointly with Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, Vice Admiral Kumar said, “We need to make it happen through the Make in India initiative. We need to develop these weapons, make them cost effective with adequate production capacity and modernize our inventory with indigenous weapons.”

Vice Admiral Kumar added that while we are importing a majority of these to meet our urgent requirements, it is essential that the basic weapons like small arms are manufactured in India.

“For true strategic autonomy and self-reliance, we (as the users), academia, DRDO, public and private sector must all act together with full synergy to develop state of the art technology,” he said.

Vice Admiral Kumar, while highlighting the various initiatives launched by the government like the amendments to the Arms Rule 2016, urged for more investment from the private sector.

“The defence manufacturing has to be more competitive with private participants and the ongoing reforms in the defence procurement process will give opportunity to the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) partner with Indian companies to enter in this market,” added Vice Admiral Kumar.

He said that the current security environment of India requires our military forces be prepared to handle wide spectrum of challenges, both conventional and non-conventional as well as asymmetric. “To effectively meet these, our personnel have to be equipped with state-of-the-art small arms. This would comparatively increase the compatibility efficiency, confidence and motivation of the troops,” he added.

Vice Admiral Kumar said that the current inventory asset is heterogenous with over 40-42 different types of small arms and majority of them being imported. “The key drawback has been our inability to indigenously design, develop and manufacture a contemporary equipment in the small arms sector,” he said.

Mr Arun T Ramchandani, Co Chairman, FICCI Defence and Aerospace Committee and EVP, Guns Missiles & Armoured Systems (GMA) BU, L&T Defence said that Indian defence industry has been proactive and ventured into MoUs and JVs with foreign OEMs to create a robust defence industry.

Mr Ashok Wadhawan, Member, FICCI Defence and Aerospace Committee and Chairman, PLR Systems Private Limited said that there are huge opportunities for MSMEs and SMEs in small arm manufacturing sector.

Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, Director, CENJOWS said that all stakeholders must work together for self-reliance in defence manufacturing sector, especially in the small arms sector.

FICCI knowledge report on ‘Small Arms Manufacturing in India’ was also released during the event.