2022 was the year of path-breaking reforms for the defence sector as giant strides were made to transform the military into a youthful, modern and ‘Aatmanirbhar’ force even as the India-China military stand-off continued at eastern Ladakh.
While the armed forces were equipped with state-of-the-art weapons/equipment/ technologies manufactured by a self-reliant indigenous industry, a major reform was rolled out in the form of the AGNIPATH scheme with the aim to build a youthful and tech-savvy military ready to meet future challenges.
Continuous efforts to increase defence exports in order to achieve the collective goal of global peace and prosperity, in line with the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ vision, bore fruit as many countries showed keen interest in Indian platforms, resulting in record defence exports.
Border area development, Nari Shakti, expansion of National Cadet Corps (NCC) and setting up of new Sainik Schools to instil patriotism among youth moved forward with a renewed thrust.
The AGNIPATH scheme for recruitment of youth in the armed forces was launched in June, allowing patriotic youth (Agniveers) to don the sacred uniform and serve the country for a period of four years.
The scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces and bring about a transformational shift towards a more tech-savvy military.
The response to the scheme has been encouraging. Over 54 lakh registrations, including by female aspirants, were received by the three Services for recruitment into the armed forces (Indian Army – 37.09 lakh; Indian Navy – 9.55 lakh and Indian Air Force – 7.69 lakh).
Training centres are geared up to commence training shortly with improved training infrastructure.
Preparation and promulgation of the basic military training policy governing the training of Agniveers have been revised and implemented for the smooth commencement of the training.
Requirement of Training Infrastructure for Regimental Centres encompassing Simulators. IT Infrastructure, Training Aggregates, Physical Training/Sports Infrastructure and Works have been worked out and promulgated to cater for the reduced duration of training.
India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was commissioned by the Prime Minister at Cochin Shipyard Limited in September.
The commissioning showcased the country’s growing prowess of indigenous manufacturing and a major milestone in the path towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, presided over the formal induction of Light Combat Helicopter, designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), ‘Prachand’ into the Indian Air Force in Jodhpur in October.
The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 325, operating the indigenously built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mk-III, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in a ceremony held at INS Utkrosh, Port Blair in May.
The defence minister launched two frontline warships of the Indian Navy – ‘Surat’ and ‘Udaygiri’ – at Mazagon Docks Limited, Mumbai in May.
The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of C-295 transport aircraft manufacturing facility – the country’s first in the private sector – in Vadodara, Gujarat in October.
The facility will manufacture C-295 aircraft for the Indian Air Force through a collaboration between Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Airbus Defence and Space S.A., Spain.
This is the first project of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company. The total cost of the project is Rs 21,935 crores. The aircraft can be used for civilian purposes as well.
Due to the government’s persistent efforts, defence exports grew by 334 per cent in the last five years. They touched a record Rs 13,000 crores in 2021-22. India is now exporting defence equipment to over 75 countries.
A contract was signed for the procurement of 35 combat and three Practice BrahMos missiles for two P-15B ships from M/s BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., India.
Seventy five newly-developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) products/technologies were launched by the defence minister during the first ever ‘AI in Defence’ symposium and exhibition organized by the Ministry of Defence in New Delhi.
Providing a huge boost to ‘Make in India’ and adding a new dimension to the Indo-US strategic partnership, US Navy Ship Charles Drew visited L&T’s Shipyard at Kattupalli, Chennai in August for undertaking repairs and allied services. This was the first-ever repair of a US Navy ship in India.
The government appointed Gen Anil Chauhan as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in September. He succeeded Gen Bipin Rawat who was killed in a tragic helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu last year.