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INDIA'S DEFENSE EXPORTS: AIMING FOR THE TOP 10



  Jun 06, 2024

INDIA'S DEFENSE EXPORTS: AIMING FOR THE TOP 10



Introduction

India, traditionally one of the largest weapons importers, is now striving to join the ranks of the world's top defense exporters. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh recently announced that India's defense exports crossed ₹21,000 crores ($2.63 billion) for the first time. India's strategy includes leveraging its 'Big Weapons' such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, BrahMos Missile, Light Combat Helicopters, Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launch System (MLRS), and Akash Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM).

Growth of Defense Exports

Historical Perspective
Before 2015, India focused primarily on meeting its domestic defense needs. However, defense exports have significantly increased from ₹686 crores in 2013-14 to ₹21,083 crores in 2023-24, marking a 31-fold increase over the past decade.

Years           Export Value (INR)
| 2013-14     | ₹686                |
| 2014-15     | ₹1,941             |
| 2015-16     | ₹2,059             |
| 2016-17     | ₹1,522             |
| 2017-18     | ₹4,682             |
| 2018-19     | ₹10,746           |
| 2019-20     | ₹9,116             |
| 2020-21     | ₹8,435             |
| 2021-22     | ₹11,067           |
| 2022-23     | ₹15,918           |
| 2023-24     | ₹21,083           |

Key Export Products
India currently exports defense products to 84 countries, including patrol vessels, low-band radars, anti-tank weaponry, armored vehicles, torpedoes, bulletproof jackets, small arms, artillery guns, rocket launchers, sensors, and night vision devices. The private sector contributes 60% of these exports, while the public sector contributes 40%.

High-End Technology Focus

To enhance its position in the global defense market, India is focusing on high-end technology-based weapon systems:

- Air Domain: LCA Tejas, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand, Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).

- Land Domain: Main Battle Tank (MBT) Arjun, various howitzers, and MLRS.

- Sea Domain: Various offensive and defensive naval vessels.

Strategic Initiatives

Policy Measures
The Indian Government has implemented several policy initiatives to promote defense exports, including setting a target of $5 billion by 2025. These policies aim to enhance research and development, quality control, and after-sales support to ensure reliability and competitiveness in the global market.

Learning from Israel
India can learn from Israel's defense industry, which not only develops complete systems but also focuses on components and systems that can be integrated with existing platforms from different origins. This approach has significantly boosted Israel's defense exports and can serve as a model for India.

Addressing Challenges
Despite its progress, India's defense industry faces challenges such as competition from established players, ensuring reliability, and providing robust after-sales service. The sale of the ALH Dhruv helicopter to Ecuador highlighted the importance of these factors, as legal challenges arose due to maintenance issues leading to crashes.

Conclusion
India's ambition to become a major defense exporter requires addressing core concerns within its defense industry, including enhancing R&D, production quality, and after-sales support. With strategic initiatives and policy measures, India is well-positioned to achieve its goal of becoming a top defense exporter.


SRIRAM’s


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