In a big leap forward for India-made military hardware, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday officially handed over the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the Indian Air Force, two drones for surveillance and logistical support to the Army and an Advanced Electronic Warfare suite for ships to the Indian Navy.
He also laid the foundation stone of the first project of the Jhansi node of the UP Defence Industrial Corridor, in a ceremony organised on the birth anniversary of Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi.
The event marked the culmination of the three-day 'Rashtra Raksha Samarpan Parv' to give a boost to Atmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) designed and developed LCH handed over by the PM to Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari will meet the IAF’s longstanding requirement of a dedicated light helicopter for combat operations at high altitudes such as Siachen Glacier and Ladakh.
Advanced technologies and a number of stealth features of the LCH makes it effective for combat roles in areas like mountainous terrain and dense treelines, where access for any other platform is not easily possible.
The LCH is a potent weapon platform because of its state-of-the-art systems and highly accurate weapons that are capable of hitting any type of target by day or night. It is equipped with missiles, 70 mm rockets and a 20 mm gun.
The Advanced Electronic Warfare suite for naval ships has been designed by the DRDO and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
According to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the Rs 50,000 crore order from the armed forces to Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) will be a major leap in making the country self-reliant in the production of military hardware.
The Defence Minister also said the country’s defence exports have crossed the Rs 38,000 crore mark in the last seven years.
More than 10,000 SMEs have joined the defence sector and increase in research and development, start-up, innovation and employment in the defence sector are a result of the policies rolled out by the government, he added.
The Modi government has undertaken a number of projects as part of its 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' initiative to strengthen the defence sector and ensure strategic independence.
This includes the structural and organisational reforms in the defence sector, including corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board; setting up of defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; increase in Foreign Direct Investment and draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020.