A gigantic push from the PMO and Defence Minister, Arun Jaitely, has opened the doors for the private sector to play an important role in the production of weapons and equipment for the armed forces.
A long, stalled discussion within the bureaucracy over the rules of such a strategic partnership has frustrated private companies which were expecting big production offers for air, submarine and land systems which had always been the monopoly of the public sector. The report revealed that a number of meetings — especially the one held at PMO last week — firmly pushed the matter ahead.
According to the report, four projects are expected to be taken up during the first stage which will include manufacturing of new submarines, a naval utility helicopter, a single-engine fighter aircraft for the air force and armored vehicles for the army.
A senior armed forces officer commented,
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There is no doubt that involving the private sector in this way is the best way forward. Most of the issues have been resolved and the initiative needs to be started on a ‘yesterday’ basis — there is no time to be lost.
However, there is still no concrete information on the date of signing of a formal agreement between the ministry and the six companies willing to form the partnership. The companies interested are Larsen & Toubro, Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, Reliance Defence, Bharat Forge and the Adani Group.