Thursday, January 14, 2010

Antony says defence market too big for public, private sector

The Defence Minister AK Antony has called upon the private industry to join hands with the Defence public sector undertakings to fulfil the expanding demands of the Armed Forces.

Addressing an International Seminar on ‘Army Air Defence in 21st Century' yesterdya, Antony said the market was so big that both the private and public sectors would not be able to meet the demands of the Forces. Advising them not to look upon each other as a competitor, he said that they will have to modernise to build a strong defence industrial base in the country. Antony also assured the private industry that the Defence Procurement Procedure this year, DPP 2010 will address their concerns regarding delay in procurement and judicious decision on contracts.

Following is the text of the inaugural address delivered by the Defence Minister at Seminar:-

The Corps of Army Air Defence is one of the youngest and a technology-intensive arm of our Army. Our Air Force has always played a crucial role in the destruction of enemy airpower and in defending our strategic interests. The primary mandate and responsibility with regard to maintaining the air power rests with our Air Force. The role of the Corps is to supplement the efforts of the Air Force.

Army Air Defence has recently acquired an increasingly critical importance. The need to modernize the Army Air Defence capability needs no emphasis, particularly in view of the ever-growing severity and lethality of aerial threats and asymmetric and non-conventional warfare. We must maintain and ensure a credible capability to protect our national and field force assets - not only in air, but also on land and at sea.

We have come a long way from the times when military requirements and technology lay mainly with the public sector. Today, the private sector is a major player, with requisite knowledge and expertise to meet the various requirements of our Armed Forces. The Armed Forces, at the same time, must spell out their requirement clearly and all the important players-both in the public and private sector, in turn, must also be able to appreciate the requirements and concerns of our Armed Forces. It is particularly in this context of appreciating each other’s concerns and requirements that this Seminar acquires and even greater relevance.

Rapid technological developments in the fields of avionics, stealth capabilities of aerial weapons, coupled with increased precision, lethality and stand- off ranges of ammunition has blunted the effectiveness of the existing equipment with the Army Air Defence in countering such threats. The Corps of Army Air Defence has also to acquire and upgrade new Air Defence weapons. Such a modernization can come about only as a result of an increased synergy and cooperation with the Air Force. It requires the support and cooperation of production agencies, research and development, industry and academia. However, the onus of keeping pace with rapid technological changes lies on all of you. I assure you of all possible cooperation, but at the same time, available resources must be utilised in a judicious manner.

Defence-industry cooperation, particularly in the field of Air Defence, is an urgent requirement. This Seminar is a two-way dialogue between requirements of Army Air Defence and capabilities of Defence production agencies. It must come up with specific short-term and long-term goals and identify measures towards technology development to enable the Army Air Defence to make a transformation to the next higher level. I am pleased to learn that this Seminar will discuss important issues of significance with reference to present and futuristic requirements in Ground-based Air Defence Systems.

I am confident that the deliberations at the Seminar will help in chalking out a positive role for the Defence Production agencies in revamping the capabilities of Army Air Defence.

In his welcome speech, Mr Kalyani (Mr Baba N Kalyani, Chairman, CII National Committee on Defence and Aerospace) expressed his concern over the industry. You know very well the goal set by the Government. Our ultimate goal is self reliance. It means zero imports. At the moment we are importing 70 percent of our equipments from foreign sources. It is not a happy situation. We have reduce our dependence on foreign sources. They have to reverse this trend. Instead of depending 70 percent from foreign supplies, at least 70 percent we must be able to produce in our own country. For that we need a strong Defence industrial base. In order to develop a strong defence industrial base, the Public Sector and Private Sector (should) both combine together. (Even then), they will not be able to achieve this goal in the near future. So why they consider (themselves as) their competitor, they should work together. Only then they will be able to fulfil the demands of Defence. Even if the private and public sectors work together, they will not be able to absorb the ever-expanding demand of the Armed Forces, because market is expanding and government is also gradually evolving its policies. Our procurement policies are not a revolutionary policy; it is growing, we are gaining from every experience. Now every year we are amending the procedure out of our experience and your suggestions. So last year we made some amendments. Now you are saying amendments are alright but implementation part there are some weaknesses. I will take it seriously. We have already started next amendments. In this year’s amendments (in the) DPP 2010, we must take two aspects seriously. One is avoiding delay in the procurement process. That is one aspect we are going to examine this time seriously; you can also do the same. Another is speed it up judiciously. So I am sure DPP 2010 will address further your concerns. As far as we are concerned, we are very clear, - In the years to come, if you want to achieve our goal of self- reliance, we have to reduce the dependence on foreign suppliers. India needs the strong Defence Industrial Base. That is the main goal. For that our industries will have to play a major role. Yes, you have to modernise. All these years we have built strong PSUs. Both PSUs and Public & Private Sector must work together.

I compliment the Corps of Army Air Defence and CII for organising this international Seminar by bringing all capacity-builders and potential providers on a single platform to engage in a meaningful discussion on all relevant issues pertaining to air defence. I am sure the Seminar will achieve its objectives. I wish the deliberations all success.

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