The Light Utility Helicopter developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) completed hot & high-altitude trials in the Himalayas

The Indian government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has always emphasised on becoming self-reliant when it comes to defence manufacturing. Prime Minister Modi reiterated this at a recent seminar on ‘Self-Reliance in Defence Manufacturing’ and said that India is now taking several steps towards it.

The thought of becoming self-reliant in terms of defence manufacturing is now resonated in the words of others as well. Russian news portal Sputnik reported Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General B.S. Rawat said the country should try to avoid perpetual threats or sanctions and dependence on other nations for arms and ammunition.

At an e-symposium on defence exports, General Rawat informed that out of the total global arms imports, India’s share is as high as 9.2 per cent. In fact, India was the world's second largest defence equipment importer between 2015 and 2019 with Russia being the biggest exporter with 72 per cent share, a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute revealed.

However, India is now taking from Israel, France, Denmark, Brazil, Germany and South Korea.

In fact, a nation which is dependent on other countries for their defence requirements is always subjected to threats and India too has experienced the same. The Chief of Defence Staff further said that India was recently threatened by the United States to limit growing India-US military relations if India went ahead and acquired S-400 air defence systems from Russia.

India, however, responded to the threat with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar during his Washington visit last year. He said, “We have always maintained that what we buy is very much a sovereign right,”

“We cannot depend on foreign governments, foreign suppliers and foreign defence products to meet our defence needs. It is not compatible with the objectives and feelings of a strong and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliant India)” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a tweet on August 13.

Therefore, India is now planning to manufacture its own defence equipment under the ‘Make In India’ programme.

“Firstly, ‘Make in India’ for Import substitution, secondly, ‘Make in India’ for sustained domestic demands, and finally, ‘Make in India’ for global exports,” General Rawat said.

And India has already taken the first step. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has indigenously developed Light Utility Helicopter and on September 9 completed hot and high-altitude trials in the Himalayas.

The news agency took to twitter to inform about the same. It wrote, “HAL's indigenously developed Light Utility Helicopter has completed hot & high-altitude trials in the Himalayas. LUH took off from Leh & demonstrated its hot & high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie. It also demonstrated its payload capability in Siachen glacier altitude.”

According to Russian news portal, Sputnik, the helicopter demonstrated high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie Advanced Landing Ground at 5,000 metres above sea level. The 3,150-kilogram helicopter is capable of flying 220 kilometres per hour and can travel a distance of 350 km with a 400 kg payload in one go.

Equipped with Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine, the helicopter will replace Cheetah and Chetak light helicopters, the report said further.

Now, India is taking further steps to become a self-reliant defence manufacturer. Recently, the defence ministry made a list of over 100 equipment that India can produce indigenously for which it has also floated tenders to involve private manufacturers.

At the e-symposium, the CDS said that he wanted the private sector to play a decisive role in manufacturing supplies for the armed forces.

Read the full report in Sputnik