Army Chief Gen Manoj Naravane on Thursday said that considering the quick pace of defence modernisation being undertaken by the adversaries, the country was lagging behind slightly. Continued heavy dependence of the armed forces on imports needed to be addressed through indigenous capability development. However, one cannot afford to have “operational voids when the enemy is at the gates”, he noted.
“An important issue one needs to keep in mind is that indigenous development alone cannot fill the existing… and operational voids due to lack of niche technology and manufacturing capability. Hence, there may be some inescapable need on certain percentage of imports. One cannot afford to have operational voids when the enemy is at the gates,” he said at an event to commemorate ‘25 years of Army-Industry partnership’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
He said 2020 was a unique year with twin challenges- the COVID-19 pandemic and the “belligerence on our northern borders.” The events of the past year have brought to the fore the vulnerability of global supply chains, underscoring the need for self-reliance.
External dependence on weapons and ammunition created vulnerabilities in times of crisis. In the past few years there had been an effort to reverse this trend by boosting indigenisation and focusing on dual-use high-end technology. “We are committed to procuring indigenous equipment and weapon systems, as nothing is more motivating for any Army than to fight and win its wars with indigenous technologies and weapons,” he said.
In this regard, Gen. Naravane called for greater flexibility in the interpretation of the procurement process to speed up the process.