Year-Ender 2023: How India transitioned from defence importer to exporter

Year-ender 2023: India's defence sector achieved a historic year in 2023, with a surge in defence exports and production reaching unprecedented levels. The country is now exporting to over 85 countries, showcasing the prowess of its defence industry.

Updated25 Dec 2023
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh. ANI
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh. ANI

Year-ender 2023: In a remarkable shift, the Indian government's strategic transition from being a net importer to a net exporter has propelled the country's defence sector to new heights. The Ministry of Defence marked a historic year in 2023, witnessing a surge in defence exports, reaching an unprecedented 16,000 crore in the financial year—almost 3,000 crore more than the preceding year. Concurrently, defence production crossed the monumental milestone of one lakh crore for the first time.

The rise of  global demand

The global demand for India's defence capabilities experienced a substantial uptick, with a notable interest in products such as LCA-Tejas, light combat helicopters, aircraft carriers, and more.

At the core of the Defence Ministry's operations were the objectives of achieving self-reliance ('Aatmanirbharta') in defence, advancing Armed Forces modernisation, fortifying border infrastructure, harnessing Nari Shakti, and ensuring the welfare of Ex-Servicemen.

According to the Defence Ministry, India is now exporting to over 85 countries, showcasing the prowess of its defence industry. Approximately 100 firms are actively exporting defence products, with major platforms including Dornier-228, 155 mm Advanced Towed Artillery Guns, Brahmos Missiles, and various other sophisticated defence systems.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the Fifth Positive Indigenisation List (PIL), comprising 98 items, during the 'Swavlamban 2.0' plenary session. The list encompasses highly complex systems, sensors, weapons, and ammunition, promoting procurement from indigenous sources.

The year also witnessed significant policy reforms, promoting ease of doing business and integrating MSMEs and start-ups into the supply chain. Notably, a record 75 per cent, amounting to around one lakh crore, of the defence capital procurement budget was allocated for the domestic industry in FY 2023-24.

The Ministry of Defence received a total budget allocation of 5.94 lakh crore, representing 13.18 per cent of the total budget. The capital outlay for modernisation and infrastructure development increased to 1.63 lakh crore.

In a notable event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Helicopter Factory in Tumakuru, Karnataka, to the nation. This facility, India's largest helicopter manufacturing unit, will initially produce Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs).

Moreover, the year featured Prime Minister Modi's historic sortie in the 'Tejas' twin-seater light combat fighter aircraft, marking the first time an Indian Prime Minister flew a fighter aircraft. HAL handed over the first twin-seater Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' to the Indian Air Force, further bolstering the nation's defence capabilities.

The Indian Air Force welcomed the first C-295 MW transport aircraft into its fleet, marking a significant step in replacing the HS-748 Avro aircraft. Additionally, the Defence Acquisition Council approved proposals worth over 3.50 lakh crore to enhance the operational preparedness of the Armed Forces.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) dedicated 118 infrastructure projects to the nation, emphasizing the government's commitment to bolstering border security. Captain Shiva Chauhan and Captain Geetika Koul achieved milestones by becoming the first women officers operationally deployed in Kumar Post, Siachen Glacier.

The Indian Army, maintaining high preparedness, addressed emerging threats to national security while actively promoting gender neutrality. The year also witnessed the participation of the Indian Air Force marching contingent in the Bastille Day Parade 2023 in Paris, showcasing India's military prowess on the global stage.

The 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign, undertaken during the Independence Day celebration, reflected the spirit of nationhood and commitment to advancing the nation. The Indian defence sector's achievements in 2023 underscore its transformation into a global player and a key contributor to the nation's self-reliance in defence capabilities.

(With Inputs from ANI)

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