Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has called for joint efforts to develop India as a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub. He emphasised the need for MRO services to safeguard our defence equipment and systems, and protect our defence forces. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the seminar on “Sustenance in MRO and Obsolescence Mitigation: Op capability Enhancers in Aerospace Domain” organised by the Indian Air Force at Aero India 2023 on February 14, 2023. Shri Rajnath Singh pointed out that the self-confidence and morale of our defence forces will be strengthened by using indigenous equipment. He mentioned that due to geo-political developments India is taking steps to strengthen its defence sector and assured that the government is committed towards making the best equipment and platforms available to our defence forces to bolster National security. Shri Rajnath Singh further mentioned that along with combat readiness the government has focussed on Aatmanirbharta in defence production, and preparedness. As a result, India is moving ahead in the field of defence production, he said.
The Raksha Mantri listed various initiatives to develop self-reliance in the IAF, such as the Akash Weapon System, LCA Tejas, Long Range Surface to Air Missiles, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft and the order for 15 Light Combat Helicopter ‘Prachand’. He also informed that there would be 160 of the Prachand helicopters in the Armed Forces in the future. He expressed confidence that these steps would help to reduce external dependence of the Armed Forces. “While we should procure the best equipment and systems, our efforts should focus on developing our own equipment and systems to strengthen the Indian Defence sector”, he added.
Speaking on the need to give a push to indigenisation, Shri Rajnath Singh mentioned that the requirement for minimum 50% indigenous content in ‘Buy Indian- IDDM’ category currently does not include maintenance. He suggested that the procurement cost as well as maintenance and support should have 50% indigenous content to make the acquisition truly “Buy Indian- IDDM” and give a boost to Aatmanirbharta. He further pointed out the need to consider the cost of defence products over their entire lifespan. “The Life Cycle cost of high value defence equipment, including service and maintenance, should be examined at the time of acquisition for a clear estimate of total expenditure on these products throughout their usable life, and to enable us to get better value for money”, he suggested. He said that this will also enable us to understand the overall financial implications and estimate the level of indigenisation in particular defence equipment.
The Raksha Mantri expressed confidence that the IAF would scale new heights not only in the sphere of security, but also in terms of self-reliance. He appreciated the organisation of the seminar, saying that it will promote efforts to build a self-reliant Air Force. He also commended the dedication of the IAF and its role as a first responder and relief activities during the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, saying that the efforts reflect India’s contribution to international relations and its duty towards the world.
The Raksha Mantri also launched the IAF Electronic Maintenance Management System (e-MMS) during the inaugural session. E-MMS is one of the largest and technologically complex digital Enterprise Asset Management solutions implemented in the world. Compendiums of Innovation & Indigenization Requirements of the IAF and the Maintenance Journal of the IAF were also released. Earlier, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari delivered the welcome address at the inaugural session. He emphasised on the contributions of MSMEs and startups towards upgradation and sustenance of legacy fleets. He urged the aerospace and defence industry to take opportunities in IAF’s objectives of capability enhancement and deterrence, assimilate technologies involved, set up R&D centres and evolve viable business plans to meet future requirements of the Armed Forces. He also pointed out that there is a huge potential for overhaul through part testing and outsourcing, and mentioned how IAF has successfully indigenised approximately 65,000 lives of spares.
The second session focused on the Indigenization and ROH requirements of the IAF. The key areas of discussion were ‘Scope for MRO, Obsolescence Mitigation & Development of Repair Technology, Certification Process, Industry Perspective on MRO Opportunities & Emerging Technologies and Opportunities and Challenges in Commercial Off the Shelf Technology.
The seminar was held to communicate IAF’s revenue indigenisation and Repair and Overhaul (ROH) requirements to private enterprise. It provided a forum for industry and IAF to work out plans for attainment of Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana Shri Dushyant Chautala, Senior officials of the Ministry of Defence, Defence Forces, DPSUs, DRDO, private industries (including foreign OEMs collaborating with Indian companies), IAF personnel and representatives of various Operational and Maintenance Directorates also participated.