From LCH Prachand to INS Vikrant, how ‘Make in India’ defence is transforming the nation

The ‘Make in India’ programme received a great boost when India inducted the Light Combat Helicopter Prachand. The recent projects, showcasing India’s capabilities in the defence sector, has caught China and Pakistan on the back foot

FP Explainers October 04, 2022 12:51:21 IST
From LCH Prachand to INS Vikrant, how ‘Make in India’ defence is transforming the nation

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally inducts the indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) "Prachand" into the Indian Air Force, in Jodhpur. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for an ‘aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) in the defence manufacturing sector is slowly but steadily becoming a reality.

On Tuesday, India took another big step towards self-reliance as it inducted the first batch of indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH), now called Prachand.

The fleet comprising four helicopters was inducted into the IAF at a ceremony at the Jodhpur Air Force Station in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari and other senior military officials.

The LCH, developed by state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), is a 5.8-tonne twin-engine chopper armed with air-to-air missiles, 20-mm turret guns and rocket systems, and is capable of destroying enemy tanks, bunkers, drones and other assets in high-altitude regions.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The induction of LCH Prachand is a special moment for the collective resolve of 130 crore Indians to make our nation strong and self-reliant in the defence sector. Congratulations to every Indian!”

Here’s a look at the other made in India defence equipment and how it’s transforming the nation’s defence sector.

INS Vikrant

After a 13-year wait, India had its moment in the sun when it inducted the first indigenously-built aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant on 2 September in a ceremony in Kerala.

The 44,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier, India’s largest and most complex warship, stretches 262 metres in length, exceeding that of two football fields and is 62 metre wide and came with an estimated price tag of Rs 20,000 crore.

Also read: How does INS Vikrant compare with aircraft carriers from China and the US?

At the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that INS Vikrant was a living embodiment of the “spirit of the Panch Prans”, the five nationalistic goals he had spoken about from the Red Fort in his Independence Day speech.

“Vikrant is huge, massive and vast…. Vikrant is distinguished, Vikrant is also special. Vikrant is not just a warship. This is a testament to the hard work, talent, influence and commitment of India in the 21st century,” Modi had said.

With this milestone, India joined an elite league of nations that are capable of developing such large and complex warships. According to recent figures, there are a total of 46 aircraft carriers in the world, including 25 Helo carriers (a warship whose primary purpose is to operate helicopters).

Tejas

After the success of the Tejas, manufactured in India by HAL, the Centre recently gave its approval for the Tejas Mark-2.

Described as a 4.5-generation machine, it is believed to be a more potent version of the indigenous Tejas multirole combat jet.

According to a report published by Hindustan Times, the government has sanctioned around Rs 10,000 crore for the project, and the Tejas Mk-2 is likely to take first flight in two years, setting the stage for its production and subsequent operational availability around 2028.

Tejas Mark-2 would have a longer combat range and greater capacity to carry weapons. Sources have said that the new fighter jet will be equipped with superior radar, better avionics and electronics.

The Tejas Mark-1 was designed to replace obsolete MiG-21s, while Tejas Mark-2 would succeed Mirage-2000s, Jaguars and MiGs-29s in Indian Air Force's (IAF’s) combat fleet.

From LCH Prachand to INS Vikrant how Make in India defence is transforming the nation

Graphic: Pranay Bhardwaj

AK-203 Rifles

In September, India and Russia finalised a major deal for manufacturing AK-47 203 rifles in India.

The AK-47 203 is the latest and most advanced version of the AK-47 rifle, which will replace the Indian Small Arms System (INSAS) 5.56x45 mm assault rifle.

As per the Rs 5,100-crore deal, more than 500,000 AK-203 assault rifles would be manufactured at a facility in the Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh by a joint venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd (IRRPL).

IRRPL was set up jointly between Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited and Munitions India Limited and Russia’s Rosoboronexport and Kalashnikov.

Howitzers and ATAGs

The Indian Army is all set to initiate the process of procuring 100 additional K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 calibre tracked self-propelled gun systems. The K9-Vajras are made at Armoured Systems Complex of Larsen and Toubro (L&T) in Gujarat under the Centre’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Moreover, India recently tested its indigenously developed howitzer gun, ATAG, at the Independence Day ceremony at the Red Fort. The Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) was used alongside the traditional British-origin ’25 Pounders’ artillery guns for the 21-gun salute.

The ATAGS is an indigenous 155 mm x 52 calibre howitzer gun developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with its Pune-based facility Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) being the nodal agency.

Swarm drones

In August, the Indian Army inducted two sets of swarm drones for surveillance and punitive operations.

The swarm drones were procured from two Indian startups — Bengaluru-based NewSpace Research and Technology, run by former Indian Air Force officer Sameer Joshi, and Noida-based Raphe mPhibr Private Limited.

Swarm drones refer to several unmanned aerial vehicles that operate in coordination. These are equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and can communicate with each other as well as with the control station.

The drones are operable at high-altitudes, rough-weather conditions and can fly at a speed of 100 km per hour and has ability to strike multiple drones at the target.

Swarm drones can carry out a wide range of missions, such as strikes against tanks, infantry combat vehicles, ammunition holding areas, fuel dumps and terror launch pads.

With inputs from agencies

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