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List of weapons that India can make at home — and the ones it cannot

List of weapons that India can make at home — and the ones it cannot
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Larsen and Turbo (L&T) have the most to gain from the Indian government’s ban on the import of defence items.
  • The Dhruv multirole helicopter, INS Vikrant aircraft carrier and submarines are something India is already producing at home.
  • What remains to be seen is if home-grown companies will be able to bridge the gap between the technology they have and what international peers had to offer.
  • Here’s a full list of items that India’s defence sector can get from local companies, and what it has had to import from abroad.
India’s import ban on 101 defence items is a boon for the domestic manufacturing industry. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh estimates that contracts worth nearly ₹4 lakh will flow towards local companies within the next six to seven years.

There are some big-ticket items that the defence manufacturing industry is already making at home. With the import ban, these companies will now be gearing up to fill the hole left behind by foreign manufacturers.

Even though the ban will play out in a phased manner with a deadline of December 2025, around 69 categories of defence equipment will be off the market for import starting December this year. This includes several types of warships, light transport aircraft, light combat fighter aircraft, light combat helicopters and ground transport vehicles, among other things.

Here’s a full list of defence weapons and equipment that India can make at home — and what it needed to import so far:

​India can build the Dhruv multirole helicopter, Rudra armed helicopter and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) in house…

​India can build the Dhruv multirole helicopter, Rudra armed helicopter and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) in house…
Dhruv helicoptersBCCL

These three choppers are developed by HAL in cooperation with Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Limited (TAAL) indigenously within India.

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...But the Apache attack helicopter, Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and the MH-60 Seahawk maritime helicopters are imported.

...But the Apache attack helicopter, Chinook heavy-lift helicopter and the MH-60 Seahawk maritime helicopters are imported.
Apache helicopterBCCL

The AH-64E Apache attack helicopter and the Chinook heavy-lift helicopter are manufactured by the US-based defence mammoth Boeing. The MH-60 Seahawk maritime helicopters are produced in the US by Sikorsky Aircraft.

In comparison to the fully-equipped Apache and Chinook, Rudra and LCH are “essentially unarmed”. Analysis shows that Rudra and LCH have no precision strike or anti-air capability, even though both these features were planned from the get-go.
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India can build the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier at home but the Admiral Grigorovich class stealth frigates but brought in from Russia.

India can build the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier at home but the Admiral Grigorovich class stealth frigates but brought in from Russia.
BCCL

Cochin Shipyard and Millennium Aero Dynamics indigenously developed and produced the INS Vikrant and they’re currently working on INS Vishal, which is currently in the design stage.

The Admiral Grigorovich-class stealth frigates were imported from the Yantar Shipyard in Russia. Something, the government planned to acquire more of going forward.

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​The Tejas fighter aircraft was developed locally and the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft was produced indigenously but the design was procured under license from Russia...​

​The Tejas fighter aircraft was developed locally and the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft was produced indigenously but the design was procured under license from Russia...​
BCCL

The Tejas fighter aircraft is manufactured in India by HAL and TAAL. The Sukhoi 30 MKI, though also produced by HAL and TAAL, was developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau in Russia.

Since the import of the Tejas aircraft will be banned after December, the Air Force plans to buy another 123 for around ₹85,000 crore before the deadline hits.

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...However, the Rafale fighter aircraft, the PC-7 light trainer aircraft, and the Pipistrel Virus Garud ultralight utility aircraft are imported.

...However, the Rafale fighter aircraft, the PC-7 light trainer aircraft, and the Pipistrel Virus Garud ultralight utility aircraft are imported.
BCCL

The Rafale aircraft, five of which arrived in India late last month, is developed and manufactured by Dassault Aviation in France. The PC-7 light trainer aircraft is imported from Pilatus Aircraft in Switzerland and the Pipistrel Virus Garud ultralight utility aircraft from Pipistrel in Slovenia.

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The Arjun main battle tank, Mk I and MK II are made in India but the massive Bhishma T-90 battle tank comes from Russia

The Arjun main battle tank, Mk I and MK II are made in India but the massive Bhishma T-90 battle tank comes from Russia

The Arjun Battle tank is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced in the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi.

The Bhishma T-90, though currently developed and manufactured by Russia in Uralvagonzavod, may shift assembly to Avadi in the near future.

The catch with these tanks is that even though the trials team recommended air conditioning, the Army chose to induct T-90 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) without it — which can make things messy during an Indian summer.

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​Israel provides most of India’s drones, but the DRDO has plans of its own

​Israel provides most of India’s drones, but the DRDO has plans of its own
Unmanned aircraft by IAIBCCL

India imports around $2.7 million worth of defence equipment from Israel. This includes the Syder mobile air defence system as well as Heron and Searcher drones.

In fact, the Indian Air Force used some its Israeli equipment during its raid on the Balakot terrorist training camp in Pakistan last year — including the Heron drones, the Phalcon airborne early warning and control system, SPICE 200 and the Popeye precision-guided munitions.

India, so far, lacks the technological capability to create its own defence drones. However, the DRDO does have plans to develop and produce air-launched drones in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory in the US. It is also working on its very own Nishant unmanned aerial vehicle.

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​Innovation to fill the missing gaps

​Innovation to fill the missing gaps
DRDO developed state-of-the-art quick reaction surface to air missilesBCCL

An import ban doesn’t mean that India can’t collaborate with foreign countries in order to build up its own defence capabilities. For instance, India’s current research with Japan focuses on technology that can further boost the efficiency of unmanned ground vehicles and robotics.

With the US, India is focusing on lightweight small arms technology and air-launched drones.

At home, HAL and BEL have set up the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO), which has a Defence Excellence (iDEX) programme. So far, there have been rounds of the programme, which have led to designs for unmanned ground and underwater vehicles, GPS anti-jam devices, and individual protection systems among other things.

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