Tag Archives: Aerospace

LCA-Tejas-15

Another Chairman of HAL talks

HAL seems to have finally realized that it needs to be a final integrator after all! Or has it?LCA

(http://m.thehindu.com/news/national/hal-seeks-to-lighten-light-combat-aircraft-burden/article7617119.ece) It now wants to offload major parts of the airframe to the large private players. We can now see the ‘biggies’ trooping to HAL to have a bite of the various platforms that HAL has been struggling to deliver to its reluctant customers.

How sincere is HAL when it makes such statements? I say this because this same intent has been repeated over the years ad nauseum without any action on the ground:

2002: www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2002/06/13/…/2002061301830400.htm

2003: www.thehindubusinessline.com/2003/02/12/…/2003021201020200.htm

2005 August: www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/tp-logistics/outsourcing-bonanza-in-aviation-hal-alone-sets-rs-600crore-business-for-private-sector/article2185343.ece

2005 October: www.thehindubusinessline.com/…/haloutsourcing/article2193883.ece

If anybody thinks that this would make an impact on the Indian military aerospace sector, they are going to be sadly disappointed once again. All that this would achieve is to allow the large private players to put in place a certified system of producing airworthy structures, besides churning out riveted airframes and that too out of jigs and fixtures to be transferred to them by HAL. What nobody seems to notice is that a large part of a flying platform comprises its accessories and systems, including the most important power plant (engine), that really determines the flying as well as fighting capability of that aircraft. Onboard systems constitute about 25% of the acquisition cost of a military aircraft and along with the power plant, they account for 50% of the total cost. These also need maintenance and upgrades over the long operating lifecycle of at least 35 years. Considering that such systems can be tailored and modified to suit multiple aircraft, this constitutes the core of the aerospace industry. So, isn’t it silly that we are still talking only of manufacturing the shell and nothing about indigenous development and manufacture of all airborne systems such as avionics, electrical, hydraulics, pneumatics, air-conditioning and pressurization, cockpit instruments, weapons control, etc?

The Lucknow division of HAL was established out of the need for self-reliance in the development of accessories and systems. It has miserably failed to meet its mandate and hence this is where a multi-billion dollar opportunity exists for a large number of MSMEs alone. They can do wonders if pool their knowledge base, collaborate and synergize with each other and HAL can benefit by this too. This could lead to the creation of multiple consortia across the country each of which could be a potential exporter over time.

It is interesting that the CMD, HAL has talked of hand-holding. Let us look at their past track record. Five years ago, two divisions of HAL (Nasik and Lucknow) cancelled their outsourced manufacturing orders to a small private company stating that the labour unions had objected to outsourcing of work to the private sector. This was after going through a whole process of tendering, L1, price negotiation, and release of formal Purchase Orders. Is the CMD of HAL now sure that this will not happen again? Or, would the divisions now go to the unions to plead with them?

Talking of the 2600 SMEs that are supposed to be supplying parts to HAL, has anybody wondered what quantum of business each of these SMEs derive from HAL? If they are only manufacturing bolts and nuts, they could certainly graduate to aggregators by putting them together into a bracket or sub-assembly. That’s not what the SMEs would like to aim at. This precisely has been the problem with HAL. They never seem to be able to recognize the huge potential that lies untapped among the many competent and highly capable MSMEs of this country. Had HAL encouraged and facilitated the formation of clusters of MSMEs two decades ago, these would by now have graduated to system integrators, with each cluster delivering a communication or navigation or hydraulic system.

Why has HAL done nothing to support and encourage the existing MSMEs, many of whom are CEMILAC certified, who have already demonstrated their capabilities by manufacturing complete airborne equipment? Why does HAL not realise that creating such an ecosystem would be a force multiplier?

aerospace skilling

This is the level of our engineering graduates

How imperative is it to skill our engineers? When does skilling really start? At the post-graduate level? Graduate? School?

Let me narrate a recent incident to you, and then you can draw your own conclusions.

This is how an engineering graduate with a further six months training in embedded systems, attempted to solve a simple exercise that I had given her:

The task was to calculate digital samples for generating a sinewave. I casually suggested that she could use Excel, if she wanted. She looked quite puzzled and asked ‘How can Excel calculate the samples’? I said, ‘Can’t you give a formula’? She asked, ‘What formula?’ I said, ‘If you specify ‘x’, the computer can calculate ‘sin x’. Anyway, I said she could do it manually with a calculator also if she so wished.

She came back to me with a table written on her notebook with columns of ‘x in 1 degree increments’, ‘x in radians’, ‘sin x in decimal’, ‘Hex value in 8 bits’. She had stopped at 15 degrees since it was taking her too much time to manually calculate the entire 360 degrees. I also noticed that she had not taken the negative values of sin x. So, I asked her to calculate just one sample in the 2nd and 3rd quadrant.
She shot back, ‘Quadrant’?
I said ‘yes. Do you know what is a quadrant’?
She shook her head and sheepishly said, ‘I’ve forgotten. You mean 270 degrees?’
I asked ‘What is the first quadrant’?
‘Zero’
Without revealing any anger in my voice, I asked, ‘What is the range of the first quadrant’?
‘Zero. No, 90’
‘What is the second quadrant’?
‘180’
‘What is the third quadrant’?
‘270’
At that point I lost my patience and told her, ‘First quadrant is from 0 to 90. Can you now identify the 3rd quadrant’?
‘Yes sir. It is 180 to 270’.
Quite relieved at this huge success, I said, ‘Can you now just calculate 16 samples of a full wave and show me the result’?
She came back after 15 minutes and showed me a set of calculations that were all wrong. She had no idea what she had to do.
I thought I would go to the absolute basics and asked her ‘What is sin 30’?
She quickly whipped out her scientific calculator. I said, ‘You don’t need a calculator for that. Can you not draw a triangle and calculate’?
She stared at me as if I was out of my mind. Then she drew a vague triangle in which not even one angle was a right angle.
So, I drew one and denoted x as the ‘opposite’ and y as the hypotenuse. I said ‘Can you now calculate sin 30’?
‘But both x and y are unknown’.
I helped her by saying that ‘y’, the hypotenuse was 1. ‘Can you now calculate x’?
She quickly and triumphantly wrote ‘x= y*sin 30’!
‘I think you can calculate the value of x in relation to y, can’t you’?
An empty stare.
‘If one angle is 30 in a right-angled triangle, what would be the other?’ I asked.
’30 degrees’!
‘What is the sum of all three angles in a triangle’?
‘180. So, the other angle should be 60’.
So, I drew a mirrored triangle beneath the existing one to create the resultant equilateral triangle and asked ‘Does this shape give you any hints?’
An empty stare. So, I asked ‘Do you see any symmetry in the super triangle’?
‘Yes! If one is x, the other is (1-x)’!
I slapped my forehead and said ‘If there’s an isosceles triangle, can you guess x’?
‘It is x/2’.
With many more minutes of prodding and slapping my forehead, she arrived at ‘sin 30 = 0.5’
‘Now that you’ve managed to calculate sin 30, can you now calculate sin 45′?
She drew another triangle just like the 30 degree triangle, wrote x=0.5 and y=1 and marked the angle as ’45’.
I remarked ‘How did you mark x as 0.5′?
‘Sir, we just worked it out’!
I let it be and asked, ‘If one angle is 45 in a right angled triangle, what is the other angle’?
I was quite relieved that she did not go for her calculator. She actually blurted out ’45’ in just under 35 secs.
‘Great! If two angles are 45, can you figure out any relationship between any two sides’?
‘The base (adjacent) will be root 2’.
I said ‘If the two angles are 45, which two sides would be equal’?
Losing patience, I identified the base and the opposite sides as ‘1’. ‘Can you now calculate the hypotenuse’?
A blank stare forced me to draw dotted squares on the three sides and I asked ‘Does this picture now tell you anything’?
She shook her head. I asked ‘Have you heard of Pythagoras theorem’?
‘I have forgotten, Sir’.
Assuming that x, y & z may be more confusing than the a,b & c that we used to be taught in school, I wrote the latter.
No use.
So, I just wrote the formula c2 = a2 + b2.
Voila! ‘Root 2’ came the answer at last!!!!

‘Now that you have managed to calculate sin 30 and sin 45, can you now do sin 60’?
‘Sure’ was the very confident and proud reply.
She proceeded to draw yet another triangle that looked exactly like the first one and promptly wrote 60 in place of the 30.
She wrote ‘1’ on the hypotenuse and ‘1.5’ on the side opposite 60.
I was horrified.
‘How did you get 1.5 on that side’?
‘For a 15 degree increase from 30 to 45, that side increased from 0.5 to 1. So, for another 15 degree increase, it will increase by another 0.5’!
I thought to myself, “Absolutely brilliant logic”, but preferred to tell her calmly, ‘That’s not correct logic. If that was so, what would happen if the angle increased to 90’?

She proceeded to write two superimposed vertical lines for some distance and said, ‘It will be 2’.
‘How did you get 2? Why not 2.5’?
‘No, it can’t be 2.5’
‘But, you know what sin 90 is in reality, don’t you’?
‘Yes. 1’.
‘So, isn’t your logic wrong’?
‘Yes, Sir’.
‘So, now go back to your first triangle that you drew for sin 30. There’s something that you can see right there for 60’, I said.
She didn’t get it. So, I pointed out the 60 degree angle at the top of the triangle and asked ‘Can you write the sin 60 with reference to this angle’?
‘But that angle is in reverse. It goes beyond 180′.
I could not believe that I was listening to all this coming from an engineering graduate. Maintaining my composure, I took a deep breath.
I quickly drew another triangle as a mirror image of the 30 degree example and asked ‘Does this make any difference to the sin 30 just because the triangle is reversed’?
I was relieved when she said ‘No’.
‘So, can you now calculate sin 60 in the same triangle as the sin 30’?
‘Yes. It is 0.75’.
With anger and pain very visible on my face, I asked ‘How did you get that? Did you apply Pythagoras theorem’?
‘Oh yes. I forgot to do the squaring and rooting, Sir’!

If an engineering graduate has not understood the basics of what she studied in school, how did she not only progress through college but also get marks of over 60 and 70%? So, what’s the use of the examination system, not to talk of the class room lectures? If she does not even know the basic school-level geometry of a right angled triangle, let alone remember the name ‘Pythagoras theorem’, what science is she going to apply in life? What’s even more shocking to me is that many people tell me that 75% of the graduates are of this standard.

The question remains – If our engineering graduates do not learn how to apply basic  mathematical, engineering and science concepts to solve a problem, what do we mean by “Make in India”?

Digital veena inventor who beefed up IAF’s firepower

An entrepreneur who has won a patent for a digital veena, and also designed a mechanism that fires rockets at a command from a computer aboard the Indian Air Force’s Jaguar aircraft? Incongruous but true. The entrepreneurial career of G Raj Narayan, 66, founder and managing director of Bengaluru’s Radel Group, has been guided by his twin passions – aerospace and music.

He spent 10 years as a design engineer at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) before disillusionment turned the thoughts of this post-graduate from IIT Madras towards entrepreneurship. He finally left HAL in mid-1979.

Within three months he was sub-contracting for Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, supplying electrical coils after investing his savings of Rs 10,000 in a coil winding machine. Together, the group’s two companies – Radel Electronics Pvt. Ltd. (which makes security systems and musical instruments and accounts for 90 per cent of group revenues) and Radel Advanced Technology Pvt. Ltd. (the aerospace business) – employ 80 people and have sales revenues of Rs 10 crore.

Aero India 2015

Radel is still a small enterprise. But Raj Narayan is working with the aviation wing of the Indian Navy, and hopes to get business from the Army too, since Radel is one of the few Indian players to be certified by the Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification – a Defence Research and Development Organisation lab. “I am looking at 100 per cent growth in the next two years, possibly even 150 per cent, if ‘Make in India’ takes off.” Raj Narayan concedes that for nearly 10 years after he started in business, he continued with his “garage mindset”, and it was only when he won an award for electronics in 1987 that he thought, “I must shift to an industrial estate in order to become a bigger player.”

He has taken care to ensure that R&D is Radel’s core strength. “The R&D team gradually grew, but took a quantum jump when the company set up its facility in Electronics City in 1995. The team now has about 16 engineers who design the electronic circuits, the software, the printed circuit boards, the mechanical housings and structures, the plastic cabinets and everything else that contributes to complete product design,” he says.

The disadvantages of being small are repeatedly felt. Though his aerospace company alone has orders in hand worth Rs 1 crore, working capital is hard to get from public sector banks. However, Raj Narayan turned one such disadvantage into a business opportunity. He found it hard to recruit engineering talent. Moreover, new recruits, once trained, would soon depart for greener pastures. So he set up the Drona Centre for Excellence as a division of Radel, “primarily to produce trained and productive engineers out of fresh graduates”.

Since Radel also possesses core aerospace domain expertise, “Drona also offers training courses in avionics systems, besides electronic product design. This allows the trainees and engineers a hands-on exposure to live projects that they can also see physically implemented for a real client,” says Raj Narayan.

This finishing school is the group’s third revenue stream, and so far it has taken in two batches of 30 students each and trained them, after which they were free to leave and join other companies. The centre also holds short-term courses for engineering students during their holidays.
Though in his mid-sixties, Raj Narayan intends to continue at the helm of Radel for six or seven years more. “I am in the process of grooming a second line of leadership, who can take over when I retire,” he explains.

The original article appeared on Business-Standard

Indiansmes

Challenges – Design and manufacture in A&D

Design and manufacture of civilian aircraft differs significantly from that of Military aircraft in that the certification processes are completely different. Military aircraft are certified as airworthy by CEMILAC, a wing of the DRDO, whereas civil aircraft are certified by DGCA. The standards applicable for each of these categories are also vastly different since safety is of paramount importance in the case of civil aircraft that transport civilian passengers. Further, civil aircraft would need to be meet certification requirements of FAA and EASA in case these aircraft are to fly internationally. Since Indian aerospace companies have very little experience in civil certification procedures coupled with the fact that the civil aircraft manufacture is literally non-existent in India at the moment, this would be a much tougher proposition to tackle than military aircraft.

The aircraft industry needs to adopt the consortium approach rather than have individual companies going it alone.

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Aircraft design, development and certification is a highly complex, technology and capital intensive and long gestation industry that can stretch beyond 10 to 15 years or more. It is therefore, highly unlikely that the private sector would be willing to risk investments into this business all by itself. The best approach would be for the formation of a consortium of large, medium and small companies with proven expertise in various domains that can pool resources and synergise competence. Even the government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) needs to adopt this model to create a win-win situation among its customers, vendor partners as well as itself.

The Union government will have to provide some incentives either as grants or subsidies to facilitate and nurture the growth of not just one, but a few such consortia. This would ensure that there is a competitive environment that prevents complacency or cartelization. In addition, these consortia can be rated on their successful contributions which will entitle them to more grants for future projects. This support even for a limited period of 5 or 10 years could foster the growth of clusters and consortia, beyond which they would be self-sustaining.

The original article appeared on The Times Of India.

Indiansme

Make in India Campaign and Indian SMEs: The Fine Line

The biggest highlight of the year for the aerospace manufacturing industry and Indian SMEs without any doubt has been the announcement of the ‘Make in India’ campaign by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Not only has it galvanized the industry in India, but it has also given a renewed confidence to foreign player,s resulting in increased interest from foreign investors to invest in local manufacturing. The Make in India initiative has given new hope to the Indian SME sector and has come as a boost to the sagging morale of Indian SMEs and Manufacturing industry. After the introduction of the Make in India campaign, the industry has started seeing visible changes to the functioning of bureaucracy across the country.

The Union Government has been making all the right noises and is also demonstrating the willingness to take all steps to improve the economy on every front. Works and policies initiated and proposed by the new government in its first few months in power have been very encouraging for the aerospace manufacturing sector.

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Several Indian SMEs have overcome the long gestation period associated with the Aerospace & Defence sector and now look to take a leap forward with more prestigious projects.

Tweet this: “The Make in India’ campaign, both in the industrial as well as the A&D sectors, is bound to open up huge opportunities for SMEs with strong design and development capabilities. Radel hopes to capitalize on these and grow into a nationally recognized organisation.”

The successful flight testing of an in-house designed product of Radel in a Jaguar aircraft of the IAF, leading to its certification for regular use in all Jaguars, was the high point of Radel’s performance in 2014. Radel hopes to repeat the above success with another product, which is currently under an advanced stage of testing for the IAF, in 2015. Overall, Radel hopes to grow by at least 60 percent and look for opportunities in the global A&D market.

Demand creation is also a big expectation. While consumer demand will get generated with inflation getting under control, it is critical to jump-start infrastructure, which can and should be the engine of growth for some years to come. Big steps like labour reform and land acquisition would be areas of high importance. They might get addressed this year if the stakeholders come together to work towards the common good.While it will be incorrect to expect all of that to happen in one year, it is encouraging to see a clear sign of a strong beginning of this cycle in 2015.

IndianSMEs, AeroIndia 2015

Factors and Challenges Related to the Growth of Indian SME

Indian SMEs have been a hot topic of discussion during last couple of months and have attracted the attention of entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and industrialists. India’s Defence budget has been growing year after year and has reached Rs.2,290 billion for 2014-2015. As a result, the opportunities for Indian SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) have also grown, leading to increased focus of policy makers and Indian Aerospace SMEs on this sector.

A significant thrust has been indicated in the union budget 2014-15 for the growth of Indian SMEs. After agriculture, the major contribution to the GDP (40 percent) is byMSMEs, who also have the largest workforce. MSMEs in all sectors are known for specific distinctive advantages like low-cost operations, unique skill sets, innovation, flexibility and agility. Indian SMEs nowadays are considered to be competitive and focused.

There has been active participation of Indian SMEs in the last decade in the defence arena. MSMEs play a major role in the defence ecosystem by producing sub-systems and components.

It has been estimated that the Indian defence sector currently comprises over 6,000 MSMEs which are fast integrating themselves into the supply chains of national and international majors including the PSUs.

Although the majority of them produce items of low value addition, a few small enterprises have proved their potential by producing sophisticated high quality products at competitive prices.

 

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The Opportunities

The Defence Procurement Policy 2011 had encouraged indigenous manufacture of defence equipment. Further changes in DPP 2013 have been made, to give preference to ‘Make in India’ across all categories. Indian enterprise should take indigenous design and manufacture as a challenge to grab the multi-fold business opportunity. This may bring a change – from dependence on imports to self-reliance. It will certainly yield technology spin-offs to various other fields such as automobile and consumer sectors.

Nearly 50 percent of defence equipment that are held by IAF are obsolete. They either need replacement or upgradation to extend their useful life. An opportunity of around US$10 billion exists in this segment. Obsolescence management is a key area where Indian MSMEs  can play a major role. A few Indian SMEs have developed indigenous sub-assemblies as part of obsolescence management, for both defence forces and defence PSUs.

The Challenges

Constraints faced by majority of MSMEs referring to the A&D sector are

  • Lack of awareness and exposure to stringent performance requirements such as high quality, reliability, efficiency and ruggedness to perform in harsh environments.
  • Lack of knowledge of military systems and platforms.
  • Lack of design skills for development of these products or their components.
  • Lack of training facilities for skilling the workforce, including engineers, in this specialised domain.
  • Lack of access to specialised raw materials and testing facilities associated with this sector.
  • Lack of funding to tide over the long gestation period characteristic of this sector.

Need for an A&D classification for MSMEs

The decision to bring out a new policy for MSME by our Union MSME Minister, Kalraj Mishra will open up new opportunities for all  stakeholders. Committees have been formed by Ministries of Finance, MSME and RBI to address all issues relating to the sector and it is hoped that they will provide a comprehensive policy that will reflect the changing business environment. Considering all the problems faced by entrepreneurs in this sector, a special category to classify ‘A&D MSME’ s would encourage more entrepreneurs to enter the sector.

Special schemes for SMEs in Aerospace and defence sector

A few steps that can be taken to encourage MSMEs in the sector are:

1. During the procurement process, whether of PSUs or armed forces, SMEs with aerospace/ defence skills, experience and proven track record, should be given weightage.

2. SMEs with proven track record in a particular field (such as machining or electronics or hydraulics, etc.) but lacking experience in the A&D arena, to be given exposure to specialised processes and requirements of this sector.

3. Commonly used materials and standard parts (For example, fasteners) of approved grades and quality that either need to be imported or manufactured within the country can be consolidated by creation of a raw material bank, operated and managed by NSIC or a similar organisation.

4. This sector is known for the long cycle time, from order to realization of sales. Special funding schemes taking this factor into account, would be a major step in mitigating one of the main elements discouraging MSMEs in this sector.

A&D MSME Clusters — the way forward

MSME clusters for the high technology A&D sector has to be facilitated. Government should encourage, promote and nurture these clusters through funding, training and support schemes. These clusters could also be virtual which form a supply chain for PSUs and defence organisations. Members in virtual cluster will be able to interact and share business and ideas mutually. There is no need for them to be co-located as a cluster. Members of the clusters would then be able to be use their skills to design or manufacture different parts of equipment. Growth of every individual in the clusters can be increased by pooling of complementary domain expertise. This would go a long way to establish the eco-system which is essential for successful and holistic implementation of indigenisation programs.

For indigenous defence industry

As an extension of the cluster model described in the preceding paragraph, a PSU such as HAL or BEL, or the maintenance wings of the armed services could financially partner with a cluster for mutual benefit. This could be a successful implementation of the PPP model that many governments have talked about in the past. This PPP model would be able to address many of the problem areas elucidated above, including the issue of exposure and training in specialised domain areas of A&D. The PPP eco-system will provide the much required impetus to the MSME sector.

While the new PM’s objective of turning the country from a major defence importer to an exporter opens up a much larger opportunity for the MSMEs, going far beyond the cause of self-reliance, there are challenges aplenty. However, these are not insurmountable if all the stakeholders come together and synergise for the common good.

India is today the world’s largest military equipment buyer. This situation can be converted into a multi-fold business opportunity if indigenous design and manufacture is taken up as a challenge by Indian enterprises!

 

GRajNarayan

Your Stamp in the Sky

Extract from an article that was published in the New Indian Express:

The Narendra Modi government recently allowed private players based in India to manufacture equipment for the Indian Air Force. In July this year, the Defence Ministry approved the construction of 56 transport aircraft by private players. This is the first time that the private sector will design and manufacture aircraft and will not be supported by the government enterprise, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

There has been some shift since the new government is encouraging participation of the private sector. It was not a dynamic environment before, but now we can expect some change and emergence of indigenous technology in the industries.

This has ignited interest in courses on aerospace.

Demand for the course

In India, you can do a course in Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering. BE/ME, BTech/MTech and PhD-level courses are available in the country. Aerospace engineers are required to have both theoretical and practical knowledge. So, most of these programmes will focus on maintenance systems, production planning and control, airframe instruments and industrial management.

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“Studying the subject is very interesting as it has practical applications and is challenging compared to computer science or electronics engineering,” says Lynden Martin Gomez, an aeronautical engineering student who graduated last year from KCG College of Technology, Chennai.

Tweet this: “Students get attracted by IT companies and take up jobs there while the passionate few go into core engineering industries” 

Career scope

Aerospace engineers are paid from Rs.15,000 to Rs.50,000 a month depending on the firm and their experience. You can become a general manager, aircraft design engineer or a technician. Some companies where you can seek jobs include Indian Space Research Organisation, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Hindustan Aeronautics and National Aeronautics Labs. While there are many job roles and companies that take in such engineers, “it was hard finding a job immediately after graduation,” says Lynden.

“Very few who come to us have hands-on capabilities. They seem to have pre-conceived ideas that seem dull. Students should be encouraged to innovate and design new equipment.”

 

The original article appeared in the  NewIndianExpress

GRajNarayan (2)

Why doesn’t India have really good, indigenously built fighter jets ?

A modern fighter aircraft is a very complex machine. It consists of a high performance aerodynamic airframe, constructed using a variety of modern materials such as aluminium and titanium alloys, carbon/glass fiber composites, etc., and a very high performance jet engine involving cutting edge technology and high precision machined parts. This only constitutes the basic flying platform, which is then equipped with a large variety of systems involving hydraulics, pneumatic, avionics, electrical and weapons related equipment to make it an efficient, sturdy, rugged, reliable, dependable, potent and safe machine. In fact,

“The quality of the systems and weapons fitted on a fighter aircraft is what really determines whether it is a “really good” or a mediocre aircraft”.

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An equipment indigenised by Radel that fires rockets from Jaguar aircraft

The design and development of a modern fighter aircraft needs a whole set of skills, capabilities, technologies and infrastructure extending over a very wide engineering spectrum. Further, due to the rapid advances in engineering technologies these days, such an industry would need to assimilate technologies as well as innovate their own continuously through R&D.

All these require highly qualified and trained engineers and scientists, who are encouraged and supported with the best of environment, infrastructure, financial backing and most importantly, quality leadership. Such an ecosystem has been sadly missing in this country all these years. With HAL being the exclusive PSU engaged in the development and manufacture of military aircraft for the last six decades, there has been very little opportunity for the private sector to get a foothold in this sector. One must also appreciate the fact that an aerospace industry is highly capital intensive with long gestation periods and hence no private sector organisation would have been able to afford the investments as made by the Govt. of India into HAL.

It is only in the last 15 years that large Indian business houses have evinced interest in foraying into aircraft manufacture. The synergy arising out of the joint participation of various aerospace organisations such as NAL, ADE, DRDO and HAL, by itself has resulted in a quantum jump resulting in the development of the LCA. This needs to be carried further with the active inclusion of the private sector, particularly in the areas of development of the airborne equipment falling under various categories.

What is required is a holistic and planned approach to developing the indigenous capability that synergises the strengths of the Govt. controlled aerospace organisations with the private sector companies that possess proven domain expertise in each of the engineering areas such as electronics, electrical, hydraulics, mechanical, pneumatic, and software engineering.

Indigenisation

Armouring India: Indigenisation of India’s Defence needs

A look at the feasibility of complete indigenisation of India’s defence needs

India is the largest importer of defence equipment in the world. It is therefore evident that the domestic industry is not being optimally utilized to meet the country’s defence requirement. Currently, the domestic defence production is met by 41 factories of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and nine Defence Public Sector undertakings (DPSUs) under Department of Defence Production with various units across the country. In addition to this 194 industrial licenses have been issued to 121 private sector companies.

The buzzword today is indigenisation but this is more a fashionable word than work-in-progress. While we jump on to the bandwagon of indigenisation let us truly understand the concept. Indigenisation starts with identifying critical equipment and systems that are being imported”, and then to either reverse engineer these products or design them from scratch using our own knowledge and expertise.

Over the last five decades, the Indian Government has been pursuing the acquisition of new technologies as part of manufacturing licenses from foreign companies. While this has resulted in valuable exposure to the manufacture of state-of-the-art products, as in the case of the Mig-21 and Su-30, Transfer of Technologies (ToTs) have rarely included design technologies of the manufactured product. What is transferred is only the manufacturing technology. It is therefore up to the Indian partner to either reverse engineer or decipher the technology behind the design in order to lead to future indigenous designs.

                                                                               GRajNarayan's Blog
Technology to manufacture is distinctly different from the technology involved in design. Manufacturing of various parts and systems involves mechanical fabrication and machining, assembly of electronic modules and equipment, testing and qualifying to rigid and stringent quality standards. Very few industries in the private sector have exposures to such specialised standards and processes as are applicable in defence equipment. Hence, the need of the hour is to attract more private sector enterprises, more particularly the MSMEs, to this field.
With the competitive growth of the Indian MSME environment, many of whom have highly sophisticated machineries and equipment, and possess specialised expertise in their own small areas of operation, there are many examples of truly outstanding firms who are now manufacturing industrial parts and equipment not only for Indian consumption, but also exporting them to prestigious companies globally.

The technical competence of Indian MSMEs is therefore no longer under question. What is required is a nurturing environment of trust and support going much beyond the token recognition by way of annual awards by the government or trade and commerce bodies.

Tweet this: “MSMEs need only to be empowered with the right kind of exposure and training to raise their capabilities to the demanding and specialised needs of the defence industry”.

Such MSMEs will then graduate over time to developing their own products and processes that would contribute to the creation of a large matrix forming the supply chain for indigenous integrators such as the Jaguar aircraft. PSUs or even the large private sector organisations in the years to come.

The question of value arising from foreign collaborations and ‘manufacturing under license’ can be answered in comparison to the automobile sector in India. The entry of Suzuki and Honda into the country for license manufacture of their vehicles in a collaborative venture with Indian private companies, introduced not only the Indian consumer to high quality, state-of-the-art, re-liable and trouble-free vehicles, but also to modem manufacturing methods, machineries, human skills and management systems. The Indian private sector companies have proven their mettle in absorbing not only the manufacturing technology but also in developing their own design skills.Thus, resulting in their ability to leap-frog and compete by themselves in the global market. Indirectly, this has also spurred the establishment of a supply chain of ancillaries and parts manufacturers of global standards. Thanks to this, a healthy ecosystem of the indigenous automobile industry is firmly in place. This is what needs to be replicated in the defence sector too.India is, and will continue to be, an attractive market for defence related sales for foreign manufacturers.

However, it is certain that no other country would be willing to transfer critical, cutting edge technology to India, with the risk of losing their de-fence superiority as well as financial returns. The solution clearly lies in factoring in all these aspects, and pooling of all resources and the best minds in the military, the public sector, the private sector, the academia and R&D organisations across the country in a strategically planned and executed partnership. The political leadership only needs to set the rules of the game and a level playing field in a transparent system.

Tweet this: “Innovation and indigenisation are literally two sides of the same coin. Innovation is triggered automatically when one is forced into a corner”.

This was amply proved by both DRDO and ISRO in the manner they overcame sanctions and denials of technology and critical parts for their projects. This should give us the confidence that the same can be replicated in other de-fence and aerospace projects.
The MoD, Government of India, should act as a facilitator and enabler in such a way that it stimulates innovation in both design and manufacture of defence related products. In fact, the establishment of a separate category of “Defence MSME” through a qualification and evaluation process would by itself lead to their entitlement to financial grants, tax rebates and lower lending rates for private players successfully developing indigenous defence projects.

This calls for innovative methods of identifying prospective enterprises, evaluation of their skills as well as growth capabilities, special and exclusive funding schemes, training programmes and other support for rapid growth of such enterprises. In short, such companies need to be nurtured in the interest of the country quickly achieving self-reliance.

Tweet this: “Indigenisation and self-reliance in defence technology is no cakewalk and requires dedicated scientists, technocrats and entrepreneurs”.

The user agencies and armed forces need to appreciate this and lend a very supportive hand even when either the performance is slightly below target or delays are encountered.After all, no organisation takes any pride in failures and would certainly like to take up the challenge to improve further and cross the ‘finishing line’. As India has demonstrated in the automobile sector and space technology, Indian defence industry can not only increase the scale of its operation to cater to the domestic requirement but also export to the global market. The export of the ALH Dhruv helicopters, though limited in number, proves this capability.

The new Government headed by a down-to-earth and highly progressive Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has shown signs of a few bold initiatives, that have set a clear direction towards massive indigenisation of defence procurements in the years to come. Public-private partnerships should be the best way for-ward to reach a win-win situation for everyone concerned. This will pave the way for the best talent to be attracted towards this industry consequently leading to industry meeting most of the needs of our defence forces.

Aerospace skilling

Defence JVs without indigenous design pointless

For over a decade now, India has shopped all around the world looking for deals for more than US$1 billion worth of helicopters to replace around 200 of its military’s ageing light-utility aircraft.

But in August, Modi’s nationalist government surprised many when it abruptly scrapped the request for global bids to buy the helicopters in favour of manufacturing them in India instead.

In recent months, India has tossed down two more proposals for buying transport aircraft and submarines deciding to indigenise them. It’s part of a push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to foster a domestic arms industry.

India is one of the world’s largest buyer of weapons, accounting for 14 per cent of global imports, three times as many as China.

GRajNarayan's Blog

An Akash missile, made by India, is test fired in Orissa. Photo: EPA

Over the next seven years, India is likely to spend more than US$130 billion importing arms, officials say, to upgrade its understocked, Soviet-era arsenal. Modi wants to upend India’s arms-importer tag and turn the country into not only a defence manufacturer but also a major weapons exporter, much like China has become. “Becoming a defence exporter is a noble aspiration but it will take a lot of doing,” said Arun Prakash, a retired navy chief. Admiral. But does that not mean “We aren’t hard working and not capable of it?” Every MSME owner works hard all day and night.

It’s only the PSUs and the Govt. bureaucrats that take things easy and if all the powers of sanction and decision making is in their hands, nobody can work hard and no results can be produced.

The decision to build replacements in India for the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters using JVs in the Private sector, is indeed a good decision. But it must be ensured that the Indian Pvt. Player does not do the same mistakes as HAL in blindly manufacturing just the shell and importing all the contents of the shell. There must be a sincere and genuine effort to indigenise most, if not all, the equipment. And the indigenisation must begin from day 1 of the JV formation.

As far as exports are concerned, I think our primary focus for the next 5 years should be to become self-reliant and meet our own requirements. Exports with then automatically follow.

26 or 49% – Foreign cos. will always want all the controls and will never let us get any modern technology. In my view, ‘hard work and indigenous DESIGN’ is the only way to go.