Centre invites private sector to test military gear

The missiles purchases by India meantime, amount to 300 infrared-guided R-27 long-range missiles, 300 R-73E IR-guided short-range missiles and 400 R-77 active radar-guided medium-range missiles. The missiles will be added to the armoury of the Indian Air Force’s Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter squadrons, although the R-73s would be sent to the air force’s MiG-21 fighters. (PTI File Photo)

The Ministry of Defence has started a new scheme to promote private-sector involvement in the establishment and operations of testing facilities for military equipment.

In a notice issued on July 31, the Ministry announced that the mission of its new Defence testing Infrastructure Scheme (DTIS) it to support startups and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), which the ministry said will “bridge gaps in defence testing infrastructure in the country.”

The Ministry hopes to use to scheme to set up six to eight “Greenfield” defence testing sites as “a common facility under private sector” with up to 75% government funding covering the project costs. In terms of actual amounts, the government will invest up to Rs 400 cr (or 4 billion) in the form of “grant-in-aid” for the totality of the scheme, although it will not bear the cost of the land upon which the sites are to be formed.

The first testing facility being considered is for combat drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A workshop to be chaired by Dr Ajay Kumar, the Secretary of Defence Production, is scheduled to be held with drone manufacturers in New Delhi on August 9.



The proposed testing facilities will shakedown new technology ranging from drones, radar, aerospace, and electronic warfare equipment, while other test sites will deal with testing ship motions, military-grade software, ballistic and blasting and specialized driving tracks.

The government has banked on these new facilities to resolve a critical bottleneck in armaments development, which the Ministry of Defence claimed is being caused by a “lack of easily accessible state-of-the-art testing” infrastructure.

“Defence Testing Infrastructure is often capital intensive requiring continuous upgradation and it is not economically viable for individual defence industrial units to set up in-house testing facilities,” its note on the scheme read.

The Ministry clarified that the sites would add to the existing testing facilities already in place across various locations in the country.

“Import-Export”

India ended July by transferring two maritime patrol boats built by Larsen & Turbo Defence to Mozambique on July 29, and signing a Rs 487 cr deal with Russia to buy 1,000 air-to-air missiles on the following day.

The vessels, which are 27.68 metres long, have a top speed of 45 knots and boast of an x-band radar plus two machine guns, carry the generic name of “Interceptor Boats” by Larsen and Toubro. 

While it is unsure of how much the vessels cost Mozambique to procure, the Indian Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh, tweeted on July 29, the transfers of the vessels would increase India’s “bilateral defence engagement and maritime cooperation with Mozambique.” The Indian government also handed 44 SUVs to Mozambique’s National Criminal Investigation Agency.

The missiles purchases by India meantime, amount to 300 infrared-guided R-27 long-range missiles, 300 R-73E IR-guided short-range missiles and 400 R-77 active radar-guided medium-range missiles. The missiles will be added to the armoury of the Indian Air Force’s Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighter squadrons, although the R-73s would be sent to the air force’s MiG-21 fighters.

The procurement is part of the Ministry of Defence’s 10-I (intense) provision, which demands that all services of the armed forces have munition stockpiles to sustain a 10-day “intense” war.

The country has also signed a defence MoU with Myanmar and is in talks to hand over a refurbished Kilo-class attack submarine.

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