Army invites high-tech start-ups to meet defence equipment challenges

Source: Business Standard, Dec 23, 2019

New Delhi: At the fifth annual Army Technology Seminar (ARTECH 2019) in Delhi on Monday, the army invited ten start-up innovators to describe game-changing, high-technology products that the military could use.

One by one, they described their products: a humanoid robot that mimicked the actions of a human controller in a holographic suit; a spray-on, titanium nano-coating that renders an area bacteria-free and fungal-free; a thermal jacket made of fabric infused with graphene ink that generates heat on application of electric power, creating a warm micro-environment for the wearer to cope with extreme cold; and an encrypted Block Chain communications technology with multiple applications, such as Block Vote – an application that lets soldiers on the border exercise their ballot in secret.

Urging young innovators to develop products for the military, army chief General Bipin Rawat released a “Compendium of Problem Definition Statements”, in which the army listed out its specific technology challenges for which it sought innovative indigenous solutions from the industry and academia.

The army’s deputy chief, Lieutenant General SS Hasabnis, underscored the success of four problem compendia released in previous ARTECHs, stating that “136 of our over 150 problem statements issued over the last three years have been responded to by academia and industry.”

Alongside this, the 15 challenges the army has put out under the “Innovations for Defence Excellence” (iDEX) scheme have received “an overwhelming 164 responses”, said Hasabnis.

Forty-four winners of these challenges are presently being provided with funding for developing the innovative technologies they have proposed.

Currently, multiple channels exist for industry and academia to offer innovative solutions to meet the army’s requirements: The “Make-2” procurement category in which industry or individuals can make suo moto proposals to the army; in response to “Innovations for Defence Excellence” (iDEX) challenges; proposals under the “Technology Development” head’ or as “Army Technology Board” projects.

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Rs 26k-crore order for building Tejas Mark 1A to open door for Mark 2

New Delhi: After months of negotiations, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) have fixed the price of the Tejas Mark 1A light combat aircraft (LCA) at about Rs 310 crore per fighter, say Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources involved in the negotiations.

Now HAL is awaiting a formal contract, worth some Rs 26,000 crore for building 83 Tejas Mark 1A fighters that the MoD has already green-lighted for purchase. According to the agreed schedule, delivery of the Mark 1A will begin 36 months after the contract date. If the order is placed at the start of 2020, Tejas Mark IA deliveries will start in 2023.

With 16 fighters to be delivered each year it would take another five years to deliver all 83 fighters – that is by 2028.

“We should be signing the contract very soon”, IAF boss, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, had said on October 4. That is now imminent.

Girish Deodhare, chief of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) – the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) agency responsible for the Tejas programme – spoke exclusively to Business Standard about the Tejas Mark 1A fighter. He described it as a bridge between the current Tejas Mark 1 and the Mark 2 fighter that ADA is developing. He says the latter will be, from the standpoint of size, sophistication and capability, far superior to the Mark 1 fighter.

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Modi govt asks global warship makers to build new submarines for $6.6 bn

Source: Business Standard, Jul 11, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has asked global warship makers to submit proposals to build six conventional submarines in India to boost local shipyard capability and plug gaps in the navy’s underwater warfare fleet.

France’s Naval Group SA, German Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems GmBH, Swedish Saab Kockums, Spanish Navantia SA and Russian Rosoboronexport OJSC were asked to show if they can transfer technology to build the diesel-electric powered submarines in India, people familiar with the matter said in New Delhi, asking not to be identified as the discussions were private.

The request for expression of interest to the foreign companies were issued earlier this month, they said, but the award of contract could take at least three years. Read the rest of this entry »

India seeks to buy $2 bn worth warships to meet security challenges

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Jul 02, 2019

New Delhi: India sought bids for purchase of warships and support vessels for its navy and coast guard as it ramps up security of its maritime border in the Indian Ocean region.

The government on Monday asked seven shipyards to submit proposals for the construction of six missile warships and other smaller vessels worth ₹15,000 crore ($2.2 billion), the Defence Ministry said in a statement. The tender includes eight fast patrol vessels, 12 hovercrafts and eight missile-cum-ammunition barges.

The shipbuilders invited include private shipyards Larsen & Toubro Ltd. and Reliance Naval & Engineering Ltd., apart from the state-run Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd., Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd., Goa Shipyard Ltd., Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. and Cochin Shipyard Ltd., people with knowledge of the matter said. They asked not to be identified citing rules. Read the rest of this entry »

Indian Navy signs 10-year lease for third Russian nuclear-submarine

Source: Business Standard, Mar 07, 2019

New Delhi: Underlining slow progress in the indigenous project to design and build six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), India and Russia have signed a 10-year lease for a new Russian SSN, which will join the Indian fleet around 2025.

The navy already operates a Russian SSN, called INS Chakra, which was taken on a 10-year lease in April 2012 for almost a billion dollars. This was to return to Russia in 2022, but defence ministry sources say its lease could be extended by three years, while the next INS Chakra is built.

India leased its first nuclear submarine, the Charlie-class INS Chakra, in 1988. That went back to Russia in 1991 and the navy did without an SSN for 21 years until it leased an Akula-class SSN, the second INS Chakra, in 2012.

India has indigenously designed and built a nuclear-propelled, nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), called INS Arihant. A second SSBN, called INS Arighat, is to follow shortly, with two more in the pipeline. SSBNs are not a part of the navy’s combat fleet. Read the rest of this entry »

Defence Ministry approves procurement of 73,000 assault rifles from US

Source: Business Standard, Mar 02, 2019

New Delhi: In a major move towards infantry modernisation, the Defence Ministry has cleared a long-pending proposal of the Army to procure around 73,000 assault rifles from the US under fast track mode, official sources said on Saturday.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman approved procurement of the Sig Sauer rifles which will be used by troops deployed along the nearly 3,600-km border with China, the sources told PTI.

They said the rifles, being used by the US forces as well as several other European countries, are being bought under the fast track procurement procedure.

“The contract is expected to be finalized within a week. The US firm will have to deliver the rifles within one year from the date of finalising the deal,” said a senior official involved in the negotiation of the deal said. Read the rest of this entry »

India, Russia to ink $3 billion nuclear submarine deal this week

Source: The Economic Times, Mar 04, 2019

NEW DELHI: India is set to sign a $3-billion deal with Russia this week to lease another nuclear attack submarine that will be customised and fitted with indigenous communications systems and sensors.

The deal for the Akula class submarine — dubbed Chakra III after the first two similar vessels India obtained from Russia — will be the biggest signed with Moscow since the $5.5-billion contract for the S-400 air defence system was finalised last year. Read the rest of this entry »