Officials familiar with the matter said that several Russian weapon parts stand out in India’s new list of 107 defence items that will face a phased import ban between December 2022 and December 2028, with the indigenisation drive covering warships, helicopters, tanks, infantry combat vehicles, missiles, ammunition, and radars.
The list, which is a new push toward defence self-reliance, was released by the defence ministry at a time when global outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about the future of new projects with that country, procurement of spares for existing Russian-origin weapons, and maintenance and servicing of legacy equipment operated by the three services.
T-90 and T-72 tanks, BMP-II infantry combat vehicles, warships and submarines, and anti-tank missiles are among the subsystems India gets from Russia for weaponry and platforms.
The defence ministry said in a statement that “these 107 strategically critical line replacement units (LRUs)/sub-systems will be indigenised in the coming years and will only be acquired from Indian industry following the dates indicated against each of them in the list.”
DPSUs such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited, many public shipyards, Bharat Earth Movers Limited, Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited, and Munitions India Limited now import these components.
The advanced light helicopter, light combat helicopter, light utility helicopter, a variety of warships, tanks, electronic warfare systems, Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, Konkurs-M anti-tank missiles, armoured recovery vehicles, smart ammunition, 70mm rockets, bombs, and drone-delivered ammunition are among the items sought to be manufactured in the country over the next six years.
The suggested indigenization timelines have been set by the government. For example, by December 2025, the 23 components (in the list) for tanks and infantry combat vehicles must be indigenised in phases, and the 22 LRUs/sub-systems for various types of helicopters must be indigenised by December 2027.
The electronic warfare suite, ground proximity warning system, active vibration control system, helmet-mounted display system, health and usage monitoring system, directional infrared countermeasures, and emergency locator transmitter system are among the helicopter systems that will be prohibited from entering the country.
“These identified LRUs/sub-systems will be offered by DPSUs for industry-led design and development.” This would provide a fantastic chance for Indian industry to get more integrated into the supply chains of major defence platforms,” according to the statement.
The creation of these goods in India will boost the economy, reduce DPSU import dependency, help harness the design capabilities of the domestic defence industry, and position India as a design leader in these technologies, according to the report.
“With supply chains expected to be disrupted as a result of the current Russia-Ukraine crisis, the domestic defence industry may have a perfect opportunity to indigenize essential components.” This list reaffirms the government’s commitment to defence self-sufficiency, according to Air Vice-Marshal Anil Golani (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
To be sure, the latest list follows the ministry’s department of defence production’s notification in December of a positive indigenization list of 2,851 sub-systems, assemblies, sub-assemblies, and components. It has fewer but more difficult things than the last list, according to officials.
The events following the Russia-Ukraine war have highlighted the importance of establishing defence self-sufficiency. General Manoj Mukund Naravane, India’s army chief, had stated that the most important lesson learned from the Ukraine crisis is that India must be prepared to fight future battles with domestic weapons.
The complications resulting from the US and its allies’ broad sanctions against Russia could complicate the India-Russia defence relationship, put India’s military preparedness to the test, and increase the urgency of reducing reliance on imported military hardware to stay battle-ready, according to a report published last week by Hindustan Times.
Fighter jets, transport planes, helicopters, battleships, submarines, tanks, infantry combat vehicles, multi-rocket systems, guns, and even shoulder-fired missiles are among the Russian-made weaponry used by India’s military.
While it is still unclear how the new sanctions against Russia will play out and what problems they will cause the armed forces in the short and long term, officials said the impact of the new developments on India’s military preparedness and weapon and equipment serviceability is being examined at the highest levels.
To increase self-reliance, the government has taken a number of steps, including increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing, establishing a separate budget for purchasing locally made military hardware, and notifying two lists of weapons and equipment that cannot be imported.
Artillery guns, missile destroyers, ship-borne cruise missiles, light combat aircraft, light transport aircraft, long-range land-attack cruise missiles, basic trainer aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, assault rifles, sniper rifles, mini-UAVs, specific types of helicopters, next-generation corvettes, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems, and medium-range surface-to-air missile systems are among the items on the list.