Mumbai-headquartered Larsen & Toubro has for long been one of India’s leading suppliers of defence equipment and systems. BW Businessworld caught up with Jayant Patil, Whole-time Director (Defence & Smart Technologies) & Member of the Board, L&T for his take on the key issue of policy implementation in defence. Excerpts:
On the Strategic Partnership model to implement Make in India
The dropping volume of orders to Indian companies and preference for acquisition from foreign countries in recent years have highlighted the urgency to award the Strategic Partnership programmes as soon as possible to put India firmly on the path of indigenisation and self-reliance in building major platforms.
The Expression of Intent (EoI) for Naval Utility Helicopters were issued on 12 Feb 2019. Responses to this were submitted on 26 April 2019. The shortlisting of strategic partners and foreign OEMs is still pending while the same was to be completed and RFPs issued by September 2019. The EoI for the P75(I) conventional AIP submarines were issued on 20 June 2019 to Indian companies and on 3 July 2019 to foreign OEMs.
These were responded on 11 and 24 September 2019 by Indian and foreign OEMs respectively. The RFPs were scheduled to be issued to shortlisted Strategic Partners in December 2019. They are still awaited, so are issuance of EoIs for the FRCV and fighter aircraft programmes. While both were announced and RFIs issued to foreign OEMs, responses received and issuance of EoIs was expected in 2019 itself.
The SP programmes have the potential to boost the entire defence manufacturing ecosystem in the country provided a level playing field between private and public players is ensured. Sooner the procurement of platforms is initiated through this policy, the sooner the positive spin-offs to develop system platform capabilities to realise indigenous requirements at differentiated cost structure and eventually build exports.
On increasing allocations for defence modernisation
Defence indigenisation has remained a focused agenda of the government, as clearly visible from the reversal of acquisition category hierarchy in favour of indigenous acquisition and according Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) worth more than Rs 4,09,000 crore for Indian industries to participate.