SOURCE: The Indian Express

Continuing its series of policy interventions to reduce India’s dependence on foreign military equipment, the Defence Ministry on Monday announced a second negative import list of 108 items, and light, medium and heavy combat armoured vehicles are part of it.

India will not import any tanks starting December 2021, it was informed. The list, which includes light helicopters to Corvette warships and wheeled armoured platforms, mentions 108 weapons, platforms, ammunition and other military equipment that will be banned for imports starting December 2021 to end of 2015 in a progressive manner.

The first negative imports list of 101 items was announced in August 2020. India has been one of the largest importers of weapons in the world for over a decade, and the government intends to encourage the domestic defence manufacturing industry.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has mentioned on several occasions over the last few years that the government hopes the industry will act as an engine for growth, setting a target of $25 billion by 2025 for defence manufacturing in India.

Out of Rs 1.35 lakh crore allocated for capital acquisition for defence in this year’s budget, the government has reserved more than 60 per cent — Rs 70,221 crore — for domestic procurement.

The Defence Ministry said in a statement on Monday that in “pursuance” of Atmanirbhar Bharat “and to boost indigenisation” in the defence sector, the minister “has approved a proposal…to notify the ‘Second Positive Indigenisation List’ of 108 items”. The decision, it said, “will give further boost to indigenisation with active participation of public and private sector for fulfilling the twin objectives of achieving self-reliance and promoting defence exports”.

The list of 108 items, the statement said, “comprises complex systems, sensors, simulator, weapons and ammunitions like Helicopters, Next Generation Corvettes, Air Borne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems, Tank Engines, Medium Power Radar for Mountains, MRSAM Weapon Systems and many more such items to fulfil the requirements of Indian Armed Forces”.

Jayant D Patil, president of Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers, the largest industry body, said that due to Covid-19, the list is late by two months, as it was expected in March. But, he said, “some real big-ticket items have into the negative list”.

“All kinds of tanks now won’t be imported. That’s one extremely positive statement.” Patil said. Besides, he said, “lots of systems of the tanks will not be imported”. He also mentioned other items such as types of major, weaponised ships, and major systems, and consumables, a variety of weapons systems, including some missiles.

Patil said SIDM had given a list of around 250 items, but he was happy that around half of those have made it. He said that “we are absolutely clear that there will be a third list and a fourth list also”, as “that clarity existed even when the first list came”.

Readying to stop import

* List has the highest number — 49 — of items that will not be allowed to be imported after Dec 2021

* Import of another 21 items will be barred by 2022-end, and so on

* Includes helicopter with All Up Weight (AUW), lighter than 3.5 tonnes, single-engine land variant, Wheeled Armoured Platform (WhAP), next-generation corvette warships, mission system for Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) — or ‘eye-in-the-sky’ — system, mini fixed-winged drones for surveillance, medium-range surface to air missiles, and different categories of armoured vehicles.

* Includes special clothing and mountaineering equipment for high altitudes, imports of which won’t be allowed after December 2022, among others