The Government of India has recently taken a significant step towards promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing by imposing an import ban on approximately 1000 military items. These items, including line replacement units, sub-systems, and spares, will be phased out from December 2023 to December 2029. The aim is to enhance the domestic production of essential defence products such as fighter aircraft, tanks, warships, and various types of ammunition.
This marks the fourth list of strategically vital components used by defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) that have been subjected to an import ban in the past two years. The previous three lists were released by the defence ministry in December 2021, March 2022, and August 2022.
The revised list comprises 928 goods with a total import substitution value of 715 crores, emphasizing the promotion of ‘Atmanirbharta’ (self-reliance) in defence and the reduction of imports by DPSUs.
The defence ministry has approved this fourth positive indigenization list, encompassing strategically important LRUs/sub-systems/spares and components, including high-end materials and spares. These items, which also include parts for Sukhoi-30, Jaguar, Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) planes, magazines, and firefighting systems, will be manufactured and procured from local industries within the specified timeline.
According to sources, around 2,500 goods from the previous three lists have already been indigenized, and an additional 1,238 items have been identified for phased manufacturing in India until 2028-29.
Currently, 310 out of the 1,238 goods have been produced domestically. The DPSUs will achieve indigenization through various routes, including the ‘Make’ category, as well as in-house development utilizing the capabilities of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and the private Indian industry. These efforts are expected to boost economic growth, increase defence investment, and reduce the dependence on DPSU imports.
India has adopted a two-pronged strategy to promote indigenization, utilizing import bans. One approach focuses on prohibiting the importation of complete weapons and systems like fighter planes, warships, helicopters, and artillery guns, while the other restricts the importation of subsystems, spares, and components that form integral parts of larger weapon platforms.
In addition to bolstering domestic production, India has emerged as an exporter of military products and hardware, with its exports reaching around 85 countries.
These exports include missiles, offshore patrol vessels, protective gear, surveillance systems, radars, and more. The nation’s export potential in terms of weapons and systems encompasses the Tejas light combat aircraft, helicopters, artillery guns, Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles, Akash surface-to-air missile systems, tanks, sonars, and radars.
By expanding exports and reducing imports, India aims to achieve self-reliance in the defence sector, leading to increased job opportunities, a stronger foreign exchange reserve, and the status of a net exporter of weapons.
The implementation of import bans and the promotion of domestic defence manufacturing will pave the way for India’s self-sufficiency in meeting its defence requirements, reinforcing its national security, and enhancing its global standing in the defence industry.