Aside from issues of national pride, India imports about 70 percent of its defense requirements, which is a serious fiscal drain on the country's finances.
Highlighting the issue was the test launch April 19 of India's indigenous Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile from Wheeler Island.
During the 20-minute test flight, a Defense Research and Development Organization spokesman said Indian naval vessels tracked the missile and "the accuracy of the missile was exactly as expected."
"Any launch is tense, even after testing a hundred missiles; and this was the first launch of the Agni-5," DRDO head V K Saraswat said.
"Over the last three-four days, the team had gone through the complete launch process with each activity and system being put through our scanners: the propulsion system, navigation system, everything. By (Tuesday), I was completely confident of a successful launch."
Some 50-60 Indian companies participated in manufacturing components for the Agni-V missile, The Hindu Business Line reported Wednesday.
DRDO receives a budget of roughly 5.6 percent of India's total defense budget for its research and development programs, which last month was increased by more than 17 percent to more than $42 billion.
While missiles such as Agni-V won't be mass-produced, DRDO is interested in increasing the country's technological capabilities and fabrication infrastructure to support such advanced projects.
Accordingly, India's Defense Ministry has been initiating several policy measures not only to stimulate the country's indigenous armaments industry but to attract to foreign companies to participate in armaments joint venture production.
In the interim, India is continuing to buy foreign armaments, preparing to conclude a $20 billion contract for 126 French-made Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft along with a $600 million deal for 75 Swiss made Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer low-wing tandem-seat training aircraft for the Indian air force.
DRDO, is proposing that Indian companies such as those involved in the Agni-V production, including BEL, BEML, L&T, Tatas, SEC, Mahindras, Premier Explosives, Walchandnagar RAP, Apollo Computing, Accord systems and Software, VEM Technology, Analogics boost their production along with seeking potential foreign partners for joint ventures and technology transfer.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India strongly supports the DRDO initiative. Assocham said to advance Indian armaments production the government should presently allow 100 percent foreign direct investment in the country's defense sector so that the country can become self-reliant in production and encourage technology transfers as soon as possible.
"We must recognize that defense production is a capital and technology intensive-sector. To develop a strong industrial base in the country, we need foreign capital and technology," Assocham said.
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