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Monday August 19, 2019

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LCA TEJAS:Is It Sufficient For India?

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With never-ending assaults on India’s territorial integrity from the very moment of our tryst with destiny, the nation has learned hard lessons in the defence of national sovereignty. Yet while we have made admirable strides in the automobile, telecommunications, atomic energy, and space, we are still heavily dependent on arms imports for national security.

This dependence is most noticeable in military aviation where different types of aircraft have been bought from different sources forcing the nation to rely heavily on imported spare-parts and maintenance support at crucial junctures. The latest deal for the acquisition of the French Rafale fighter aircraft has drawn the spotlight on indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas. The question that has come to the fore is: If we can produce the money to pay foreign original equipment manufacturers, why cannot we invest the same at home and create a viable militaryindustrial complex through public-private participation?

After observing the prevailing controversies on the procurement of Rafale, the big question related to the national security arises in the mind of every Indian about the reasons that have stopped us to develop the indigenous defence aviation industry in India. After independence, the country has developed and associated with all the best technologies in the world even in the face of international attempts to prevent us to pursue a chosen path. That is why the failure to achieve self-reliance in the short term and self-sufficiency in the long term (as happened in missile development) is so galling.

If our defence industry would have also developed in the same speed, then I am sure that our mischievous neighbours would not have bothered us the way they are currently doing. In fact, this is a matter of concern as well as deep study as under what circumstances the speed in the defence production has not taken the required pace.

The requirements for all the three Armed Forces are huge and we just cannot rely on the import of each and every thing for very long. Some efforts by DRDO, Mazagon Dockyard and HAL have been made to develop military platforms but we remain the largest importer of weapons and munitions.

We see some hope in the indigenous Tejas. The test flights of Tejas have been successful and serial production has begun to meet the requirements of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.

However, bulk production of military equipment of different kinds cannot fructify until the government arranges funds and encourages joint ventures within the PPP model on a clearly laid and transparent plan. (One of the contentious issues is the manner in which the French firm selected a particular Indian company for collaboration in the Rafale deal).

Tejas could become the nucleus of a resurgent Indian military-industrial complex.

This edition is focused on Tejas because we all are proud of its success story. Our eminent contributors have highlighted the qualities of Tejas and how it can be a big support to national security.

Happy reading

 


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