NEW DELHI — For the first time a domestic company will produce precision-guided and laser bombs in India for the country's defense forces.
Emerging private firm OIS Advanced Technology (OIS-AT) will partner with Sagem of France to manufacture the munitions, which India currently import from Israel, France, Russia and the United States for its fighters.
"OIS-AT has teamed up with Sagem of France to establish manufacturing for precision-guided guidance kits to meet domestic requirements," said Sanjay Bhandari, chairman and managing director of OIS-AT. "Separately, we also have plans to establish manufacturing for advanced munitions to meet Indian Air Force (IAF) requirements."
"We are pleased to collaborate with OIS-AT with our combat-proven, high-precision, AASM Hammer Guidance and Range Extension kit for aerial munitions for the Indian Air Force. With OIS-AT we have a partner with a core focus and appreciation of advanced technologies and innovation to advance our joint interests for the Indian Air Force," Sagem CEO Martin Sion said.
Since "the Indian and foreign private sectors are signing up for the 'Make in India' drive in true earnest, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) should now repay this faith by placing orders in value and size that reinforce the belief of the investing parties," said Ankur Gupta, a defense analyst with Ernst and Young India, referring to the government's campaign to boost domestic production.
For a decade, MoD has been asking Indian companies to establish joint ventures to manufacture precision-guided munitions (PGM) in India for use by the Indian defense forces. However no deals were signed, partly due to the capital investments necessary for such ventures.
"With the evolving procurement environment, joint production of PGMs in India will be encouraged in the future," an MoD official said. "We aim to buy a variety of homemade PGMs costing around $2 billion in the next 10 years."
In addition, India's defense research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is negotiating with Sagem of France for the joint development of the New General Guidance Munition (NGPGM), a 1000-kilogram-class bomb compatible with the Indian Air Force's Mirage-2000H/TH. But the proposal has made no headway.
IAF welcomes joint development and production of PGMs in India as India cannot develop and produce everything on its own, an IAF official said.
"The OIA-AT-Sagem collaboration will chart the course for the future," the IAF official added.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.