Army Firepower Stimulus To Augment New Age Solutions From Industry and Academia


​Anupama Airy

​The intelligentsia of every nation plays an integral part in its development. The Armed forces form the backbone of our country. Therefore when the two come together it’s a space to watch out for.

On January 9, 2017, the academia and industry came together to witness the Army’s “firepower show” conducted at the Artillery School, Deolali in Maharashtra, the show was ablaze with ideas and innovations. The aim of this event was to showcase the existing capabilities of the Indian Army and seeking latest state-of-the-art solutions using indigenous technology.

With the ongoing Make in India drive and the Indian Army’s quest for “Modernisation Through Indigenisation” and “Winning Indian Wars With Indian Solutions”, the involvement of established academic institutions including the likes of IITs, IISc and others will go a long way in providing hi-tech indigenous solutions for the defence forces.

More than 125 academic and industry groups were present. The academia saw leading names such as IIT Bombay Prof Aseem Tiwari, IIT Gandhinagar Professor S P Mehrotra, Professor Col S S Kapoor, Amrita Group Professor Shantanu Bhowmik besides luminaries from IIT Madras, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Kanpur and a number of PHD scholars.

Also present were senior Scientists and Project Directors from DRDO and ARDE, reps of Gun Carriage Factory. Significantly some old SMEs, who were present there and have been supplying components for ages, saw their products fire for the first time.

 

The immense talent existing in the Indian academic institutions has so far never been tapped before for providing solutions to the Indian Armed Forces as has been this time by the Indian Army. Thanks to the efforts of visionary defence minister, Manohar Parrikar and Indian Army’s top brass, which has even previously been engaging with the academia and industry at different platforms.

The first of its kind “Firepower show” for the academia and industry witnessed live demonstrations of firing by the Indian Army using various types of high tech guns that included Bofors gun, 130 mm artillery guns and rocket launchers.

After their recent field visits to forward locations of Kashmir and Sikkim, this event at the Artillery School at Deolali was an eye opener for all present. After today’s show at the School of Artillery in Deolali, the next such display of firing has been planned at the Infantry School in Mhow (Indore) on February 20.

Under guidance from defence minister Manohar Parrikar and the former and present Chief of Army Staff, Gen Dalbir Singh and Gen Bipin Rawat respectively, the entire initiative is spearheaded by the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (P&S), Lt Gen Subrata Saha. UYSM, YSM, VSM** .

Marching ahead to modernise its weapon systems and equipment, the Indian Army has been engaging with the academia and industry. With 17 bilateral Army-Industry and 8 trilateral Army–Industry– Academia interactions already having taken place across various locations in the country, the Army says it is presently flooded with innovative solutions coming from the industry and the academia.

Recently two MoUs were inked by the Indian Army with IIT Gandinagar (December 27) and IIT Bombay. With a huge talent thats available on the home front, the MoU with IIT Gandhinagar has been executed by the Indian Army to set up a R&D cell and work with the faculty and research students from IIT-Gandhinagar in various areas to identify and comprehend the various challenges including critical technology requirements of the Indian Army.

At the signing of the MoU, Lt Gen Subrata Saha had pointed out that such unprecedented initiative would yield meaningful realisation and efficient transfer of scientific knowledge which will provide better equipments for the army and anticipated to win war with Indian solutions

During their visit to forward areas, both the industry and academia got a first-hand account of the tough conditions under which the troops are deployed and are seeking solutions/equipment to overcome day to day challenges in their functioning.

The MoU between the Indian Army and IIT Bombay is also another step towards seeking innovative solutions and for collaboration on research for futuristic requirements of the Army and determining solutions for various problems. Some of the areas for potential collaboration discussed included electronic solutions for internal security, smart logistics, research in the areas of lighter composite materials, doctoral research in capability development, setting up research cell and initiation of long term research.

 

So where exactly is the help being sought from the Academia and Industry

In line with PM Narendra Modi’s focus on start-ups, special focus is being given by the Indian Army on involvement of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector.

MSMEs, said a senior official, holds a lot of potential in the Army’s modernisation drive as almost 40% of the army’s schemes are valued at less than Rs 140 crore.

“There is enough on the plate for all…From big guns, mobile platforms, to UAVs, to high tech IT based solutions by the established industry players to basic supply of parts by SMEs and MSMEs, there is a lot of scope,” a senior defence ministry official said.

“It was great experience to see guns, rocket launchers, UAVs, helicopters, Missiles, Radars, across generations in operation, along with leadership’s vision for future gen systems required over coming decades,”said Jayant Patil, Senior Vice President, Head Defence & Aerospace Member of the Board L&T Heavy Engineering. Patil attended the event and termed it as a “great show” that served as a bridge from past to present to future systems used by our Armed forces.​​

 

The Army, as per reports, is seeking help to fix problem areas ranging from mobility of guns in mountains to night vision devices and wound-healing fabric to satellite-based tracking systems. The list goes on to add armoured fighting vehicles, unmanned combat aerial vehicles, longer range surface-to-air missiles and precision weapons.

A ‘Compendium of Problem Statements’ was released recently by Raksha Mantri Manohar Parrikar on 5th December 2016 to the IITs. Some of the areas for potential collaboration include electronic solutions for internal security, smart logistics, research in the areas of lighter composite materials, doctoral research in capability development, setting up research cell and initiation of long term research.

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