In issuing the list, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said dependence on foreign suppliers makes India vulnerable and called on private industry to meet the demands of the armed forces, pointing out that a total of 310 major items were now on the import ban list.
“Previously, defense equipment such as tanks and helicopters were mainly mechanical. It was not possible to control them. But new defense systems and platforms are electronic and software. They can be controlled or knocked down from anywhere,” the minister said.
He pointed to the US banning equipment from Chinese company Huawei for security reasons as an example of autonomy and possible interference from other nations. In the latest list, the ministry has included 101 new items which will be fully sourced from Indian industry over the next five years.
It also handed over 30 technology transfer (ToT) agreements to Indian industry for systems developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). These technologies, which can be produced by industry, include a laser-directed energy weapons system, an air-to-air missile warhead, a counter-drone system, and radar warning receivers.
The list of 101 items that will no longer be imported includes several futuristic weapon systems needed by the armed forces. “These weapons and platforms are expected to be phased in to indigenize with effect from December 2022 through December 2027. These 101 items will now be procured from local sources,” officials said.
Last year, the ministry released two similar lists of 101 and 108 weapon systems in August and May respectively. “The spirit behind the publication of these three lists comprising 310 pieces of defense equipment, intended to be manufactured locally, reflects the growing confidence of the government in the capacities of the national industry to be able to supply equipment of international standards to meet the requirements of the armed forces,” the officials said.
He mentioned domestic ammunition production as a priority area to ensure a steady supply during conflict situations. Several items on the list relate to ammunition that was previously purchased from foreign sources. The recent conflict between Ukraine and Russia has raised concerns over the supply of ammunition and spare parts for the equipment of the Indian armed forces which are heavily dependent on Russian-sourced equipment.