Vishwanath Patil
03:22 PM, February 26, 2015
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India’s First Public Funded-Privately Executed Defence R& D Project Gets Underway
'Make" India Program

Indian Government will be funding its first “Make” contract that involves two private consortia (BEL-Rolta and Tata Power and L&T) for a battlefield management system development project of the Indian armed forces.

The government will be funding 80 percent of the prototype cost and the remaining 20 percent will have to be borne by the consortia. The funding happens as a reimbursement. Both the consortia will have to develop the prototype in 2-3 years. Around 70 percent of the order is with the BEL-Rolta consortium and the rest is with the Tata-L&T consortium.

Under the ‘make’ category of the Defense Procurement Policy of 2013, a special MoD integrated project management team will evaluate the prototypes and then the winner will be producing the BMS for the defense forces.

The BMS project will be one of the largest indigenously manufactured solutions for Indian defense forces. A similar ‘make’ program is the Tactical Communication System program for Indian Army. The project has seen delays in the past and the current cost of the project is about INR 10,000 crore ($1.8 billion).

TCS could be India’s first project under ‘make’ procedures. There are two consortia for this project as well. BEL consortium and the other consortium comprising of Tata Power SED, L&T and HCL are part of the TCS project.

Both TCS and BMS projects are Research and Development projects involving technology. The TCS program for the Indian Army has to meet changing tactical situations and varying environmental conditions, provide secure communications (voice, data and video) effectively linking mobile users of all tactical units in field. The BMS project will interlink soldiers with battlefield sensors through voice and data channels.

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, during the Aero India Air show had clarified his intentions regarding the make procedure. “I intend to simplify the 'make' procedure. The MoD is ready to reimburse up to 100 per cent of a company's development expenditure, provided 20 per cent of the work is outsourced to MSMEs”.

The projects are in similar lines with the US’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wherein pivotal investments in the research and technology for US defense forces are made by the US government.

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