Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made a strong pitch for India’s self-reliance in defence production, saying it has to be ensured that the weaponry and equipment its soldiers carry should be “the best in the world”.

“If India has to be self-reliant in the area of security, we have to make our own weapons,” he said. “Indian Armed Forces are ready to make any sacrifice for the country and are second to none. But the time has come now to ensure that the weapons and equipment they carry and use are also the best in the world,” he said addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone for a Rs 5,000 crore greenfield helicopter project of HAL at Biderhalla Kaval in the district.

The Prime Minister said imported weapons were expensive and India had to spend huge sums of money for defence acquisition. “We import weapons from other countries to equip our armed forces. India not only spends crores of rupees but also gets relatively not so latest technology,” he said.

To address the problem, Modi said, before striking a deal for import of weaponry India was now buying only a part of the order directly from the manufacturers and for the rest it was insisting on manufacturing it in the country. “We say we will buy the rest of what has been ordered only if it is made in India,” he said.

“Indian Armed Forces should be second to none. Its weaponry has to be second to none,” he said. Describing the HAL helicopter project as a new effort towards making India self-reliant in defence production, Modi said he wanted the first totally indigenously produced helicopter to lift-off from the facility by 2018.

“I have another dream that within 15 years of that lift off, 600 helicopters made here reach the Armed Forces, to the government for the benefit of the country,” he said.

He said the project is expected to bring in huge investments to Tumakuru district and generate 4000 jobs directly or indirectly. “What is being set up here is no ordinary factory and very soon this district is going to come on the world map,” Modi said.

The helicopter facility, for which Karnataka government has allotted 610 acres, will house composite parts manufacturing unit and helicopter transmission manufacturing unit. HAL will also build an integrated township.

To begin with, HAL expects light utility helicopter to fly out from this facility once the plant gets ready. Advanced light helicopter Dhruv, multi-role new generation helicopter in 5.5 tonne weight class, indigenously designed and developed by HAL, will also be made at the facility.

According to HAL Chairman and Managing Director Suvarna Raju, the facility, which will produce three to 10-tonne class helicopters, will boost to the country’s aviation capability in the helicopter segment.