In a big boost to India’s indigenous defence capabilities, the government approved on Wednesday the sale of Akash missile system to foreign nations, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.
A surface-to-air missile with a range of 25 km with over 96 per cent indigenisation, Akash, developed by the DRDO, is India’s first indigenously designed missile system and can target fighter jets, cruise missiles, drones and other aerial assets. It was inducted into the Indian Air Force in 2014 and in the Indian Army in 2015.
Rajnath Singh, in a series of tweets, said that the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the export of Akash Missile System and a Committee for faster approvals has been created.
“Under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat, India is growing in its capabilities of manufacturing a wide variety of Defence platforms and missiles,” he tweeted.
Noting that till now Indian defence exports included parts or components for defence equipment, he said: “The export of big platforms was minimal. This decision by the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive.”
The Defence Ministry, in a statement, said: “After its induction in the Services, interest was shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries during International Exhibitions/Defence Expo/Aero India. The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in RFI/RFP issued by various countries.”
The export version of Akash will be different from the system currently deployed with Indian armed forces.
Besides Akash, there is interest evinced in other major platforms like coastal surveillance systems, radars and air platforms.
To provide faster approvals for export of such platforms, a Committee comprising of the Defence Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the National Security Advisor has been created.
This Committee would authorise subsequent exports of major indigenous platforms to various countries. It would also explore various available options including the Government-to-Government route.
The government intends to focus on exporting high value defence platforms, to achieve target of $5 billion of defence exports and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.
India aims to achieve exporting defence equipment worth Rs 35,000 crore ($5 billion) by 2025, as per the Defence Production Export Promotion Policy 2020.
Aimed at enhancing exports and build a domestic defence industry for self reliance, the policy targets a turnover of Rs 1,75,000 crore ($25 billion).
The policy also looks at doubling domestic procurement from the Indian industry.
The share of domestic procurement in overall defence procurement is about 60 per cent. In order to enhance procurement from domestic industry, it is incumbent that procurement is doubled from the current Rs 70,000 crore to Rs 1,40,000 crore by 2025.