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Bet on your ‘horse’: India will ban the import of foreign weapons

MOSCOW, (BM) – India has published a list of weapons, military and special equipment (AME), the import of which will be banned for the next seven years. There are 101 samples in total, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing several media including Gazeta.ru. The main goal pursued by New Delhi is to strengthen the self-sufficiency of its military-industrial base.

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The list includes weapons such as artillery, assault rifles, corvettes, sonar systems, transport aircraft, ammunition, radar stations, diesel-electric submarines, communications satellites, and ship-based cruise missiles. Writes about this Defense News.

Announcing the move, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called it “a big step towards self-sustaining defense production in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self-Sufficient India.”

Atmanirbhar Bharat is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India an independent nation. The first mention of this came in the form of “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” or “Self-Reliant India Mission” during the announcement of the economic package related to the coronavirus pandemic on May 12, 2020.

At the same time, it is emphasized that this independent policy does not seek to be protectionist.

Rajnath Singh added that this decision will open up an excellent opportunity for the national defense industry to produce weapons from the published list, using the capabilities of domestic design and development.

“It is planned that the arms import embargo will be gradually introduced between 2020 and 2024,” the Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement. “The purpose of the release of the list is to assess the Indian defense industry in relation to the expected needs of the Indian armed forces, so that they are better prepared to equip the army and navy with weapons of national design and manufacture.”

A total of $ 53.4 billion worth of weapons and military equipment samples from the list are to be produced in India with the participation of local companies as prime contractors.

Of this, about $ 17.3 billion will go to Army or Air Force programs, and $ 18.6 billion worth of defense contracts will go to naval programs. The Indian Ministry of Defense said these orders would be placed with domestic companies over the next five to seven years.

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A military spokesman in New Delhi said Indian industry now has a better chance of competing domestically and meeting local demand. “Transfer of foreign technology will be key. However, Indian companies will lead this process,” the official added.

Bharat Forge Limited Chairman Babasaheb Kalyani, an Indian multinational company in the automotive, electricity, oil and gas, construction and mining, locomotive, marine and aerospace industries, said the decision is a strategic step that will “advance the mindset of self-sustaining India and will support the Indian industry for the production of weapons, military and special equipment.”

He added that the growth of the domestic sector will lead to self-reliance, reduced import costs, savings in foreign exchange, job creation and a revival of consumption, and that this will bring India closer to its goal of an economy with a GDP of $5 trillion.

Jayant Patil, senior executive vice president of India’s largest private defense company Larsen & Toubro [Manufacturing, Technology, Engineering and Construction], said defense policy reforms would provide the long-term vision he said was needed to attract investment.

Domestic private companies have welcomed the government’s move, but some defense experts doubt the planned changes will take place.

Former head of the procurement department of the Indian Ministry of Defense Vivek Ray said that “the gradual ban on the import of 101 samples of weapons and military equipment demonstrates the government’s firm intention to increase domestic defense production. However, some of these samples are already produced or assembled in India, and the share of imports is also high. Thus, normal business will continue until more orders are placed in the private sector and imports are reduced.”

Ray also noted that the cost of products produced or assembled on site is usually higher than the cost of imported products. The quality of locally produced components and materials also worries Ray.

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The embargo cannot adversely affect foreign OEMs, as they can continue to participate in Defense Ministry procurement programs either through direct product orders or through technology transfer or cooperation with Indian companies for non-listed BBC samples. This is the opinion of Amit Kaushish, a former financial adviser to the Indian Ministry of Defense on arms procurement.

It does not matter whether a sample of the embargoed weapon is produced by a joint venture or any other enterprise if it is designed and developed in India, Kaushish added. And in fact, an Indian Defense Ministry official confirmed that foreign OEMs can now set up joint ventures with a controlling stake of up to 74%.

According to the official, these companies will be considered Indian companies and, therefore, will have the right to produce goods subject to the embargo.

It is not yet clear who will benefit from this and who will lose from the decisions made. As Gazeta.Ru previously reported, Russia is still one of the main players in the Indian arms market. Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation has been going on for about six decades.

Over the decades of successful partnership, the PTS has had significant potential for cooperation with India. The main task today is to maintain Russia’s leading role in the Indian arms market and, in the long run, to increase the level of strategic cooperation that exists between the countries, even in the most sensitive areas.

As for the prospects of cooperation, Moscow intends to intensify the existing trend of transition from the paradigm of relations exclusively “seller-buyer” to a more inclusive, industrial-technological model, which fully fits into the program of national industry development adopted by the Government of India.

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Following the results of last year, India entered the top three of Russia’s leading partners in the military-technical cooperation with a portfolio of orders exceeding $ 15 billion.

Over the past three years, contracts have been signed for the supply of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system, and the construction of project 11356 frigates in Russia and India. A contract has been signed to increase the licensed production of T-90C tanks. The international tender for the supply and organization of licensed production of portable anti-aircraft missile systems “Igla-C” in India was won, and a number of contracts for the supply of large consignments of missiles and ammunition for air and ground equipment are being implemented. The draft program of Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation until 2030 has been handed over to Indian partners.

In fact, Russia participated in the Make-up India program long before it became a popular slogan. Over the years of cooperation with the help of Russia, India has successfully mastered the production and now produces dozens of high-tech models of military products. This applies to the licensed production of Su-30MKI aircraft and T-90C tanks, as well as the activities of the joint organization “BraMos”, which has broad export prospects.

Great hopes are also placed on the joint ventures created in India for the production of Ka-226T helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles of the modern 200th series. Russia is cooperating with India to build surface ships of Project 11356 and equip them with modern weapons and special equipment.

Russian proposals for joint work in the field of submarines of the 75I project have been sent to the Indian side, envisaging a full cycle of technological partnership, as a result of which Indian industry will be able to master the production of an air-independent power plant.

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As part of the upcoming tender, Russia has offered India a Lada-class submarine (an export version of the Amur-1650) with an air-independent power plant. This DEPL can be equipped with BraMos missile systems.

Execution of the contract for the supply of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system to India is generally on schedule. Delivery is scheduled to begin by the end of 2021.

Experts interviewed by Gazeta.Ru believe that it is too early to talk about the direct impact of the decisions made in New Delhi on Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation.

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