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The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) have come under scrutiny following the procurement of Bharath Panther Crash Fire Tenders (CFTs) from a Noida-based MSME firm. Critics online have pointed out the vehicle’s striking resemblance to the Rosenbauer Panther 6×6 CFT manufactured by the Austrian company Rosenbauer International.

The controversy stems from the undeniable similarities between the Bharath Panther and the Rosenbauer Panther. Notably, both vehicles share a 6×6 configuration and are believed to utilize the same Volvo Penta D-16 engine source. These parallels have led many to question whether the Bharath Panther is a genuine indigenous product or simply a rebadged import.

The IAF, however, maintains that the contract with the Noida-based firm ensured delivery of the CFTs within 14 months, a feat achieved despite ongoing global supply chain disruptions. This swiftness in procurement is being touted as a success story for Indian defense manufacturing.

The online criticism highlights a recurring concern in India’s defense sector: the potential for rebranding foreign products as domestic creations. This practice undermines the true spirit of “Make in India” and raises questions about transparency in procurement processes.

The IAF and MoD must address these concerns head-on. Releasing detailed specifications of the Bharath Panther, particularly regarding its engine and chassis, would provide some clarity. Furthermore, a stronger emphasis on fostering genuine technological innovation within the Indian defense industry is crucial to ensure self-reliance and avoid future accusations of rebadging.