India forms state-run defence JV for 60k tons/yr aluminium alloy plant

New Delhi: India has established a joint venture between two state-run enterprises to produce 60,000 tonnes-a-year of high end aluminium alloy used in the strategically important aerospace, aviation and defence sectors.

India’s defence ministry-run Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) and mining ministry-run National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) have incorporated the joint venture under an equal equity partnership for setting up the development and manufacturing plant in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. MIDHANI is a mini-Ratna public sector undertaking under the Department of Defence Production, while NALCO is a Navratna public sector unit under the Ministry of Mines.

“The project is likely to be completed and would start production within five years from the zero date. The zero date will be the date of obtaining statutory clearances and completing other pre-project activities like obtaining unencumbered possession of land, environmental clearance, financial closure, etc.,” Parliament of India‘s Council of the States (Rajya Sabha), the upper chamber of the bi-cameral system of national legislatures, was informed today.

The project has the potential to create direct employment opportunities for about 400 people and indirect employment opportunities for about 1,500 people through ancillary/auxiliary industries including employment opportunities for the local youth, the parliamentary reply to questions from a member said.

Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, in separate replies to other questions from Rajya Sabha members, gave these details:

  • Defence Contracts: During the last three years (2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19) and current year (up to August, 2019), 102 contracts have been signed with the Indian vendors. During the last three financial years (2016-17 to 2018-19), 149 capital acquisition contracts have been concluded, of which 91 contracts have been placed on Indian vendors for procurement of defence equipment for the Indian defence forces. NOTE: India’s financial year begins in April.
  • Ordnance Factory Corporatisation: There is a proposal to convert Ordnance Factories under the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) into a 100 per cent government-owned defence public sector unit (DPSU) to provide functional and financial autonomy and managerial flexibility, so as to enable the organisation to grow at a faster pace and play a greater role in defence preparedness of the country, while also adequately safeguarding the interests of the workers. At present, there is no proposal to privatize ordnance factories under the control of OFB.
  • Technology Transfers: During the last three years, around 300 Licensing Agreements for Transfer of Technology (LATOT) have been signed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with Indian industries (private, public and ordnance factories), wherein 270 LATOTs have been signed with private industries alone. DRDO being a technology developer, there is no distinction between core and non core products, however, to facilitate ToT to industries, technologies are categorised into two categories: Category ‘A’ comprises of military technologies only and Category ‘B’ comprises of dual use technologies that have civilian applications also in commercial market as a spin-off.
  • Theft on IAC Vikrant: On Sep. 16, State-run Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) reported theft of certain commercially off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware items from Multi Function Consoles (MFCs) of Integrated Platform Management System on board Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC). Investigations by the Kerala Police and National Investigation Agency have been instituted. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is responsible for the security of CSL. To compliment CISF, CSL has also engaged additional manpower for the security of the yard as well as the aircraft carrier. Security has already been enhanced at sensitive points in the yard as per the recommendations of Kerala Police and other Central security agencies. Besides, videography of both gangways to the ship, operationalisation of CCTVs, biometric access control, locking of sensitive compartments, etc. have been taken up. All security arrangements within the yard are periodically reviewed and implemented in consultation with CISF/Intelligence Bureau.
  • Kiran Trainer Aircraft: A total of 56 Kiran aircraft built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are available for imparting training to Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots, out of which 39 aircraft are available at Air Force Station Hakimpet and 17 aircraft are available at Air Force Station Tambaram. The IAF is adequately equipped to cater for training of its pilots. Acquisition of aircraft is a continuous process by way of procurement and indigenous production, including modernisation efforts in sync with the strategic objectives and operational requirements of defence forces, which are reviewed by the government from time to time.
  • Air Force Modernisation: The modernisation of the armed forces is an ongoing process and is executed in consonance with the road map laid down in the Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) which specifies the capabilities that the armed forces including Indian Air Force (IAF) need to acquire over a 15-year period (2012-27), considering the current capabilities of the armed forces, the emerging threats in the region and the prevailing technological environment. The modernisation of the armed forces, including the IAF, is carried out by continuously upgrading the existing systems to maintain their operational relevance and replacing old system with state-of-the-art systems. The budget allocated during the financial year 2019-20 for modernisation of the IAF is Rs 36,409.89 Crore ($5 billion).
  • Defence Industrial Corridors: In the national budget of 2018-19, the Modi government had announced setting up of two Defence Industrial Corridors in the country. In pursuance to the said announcement, it was decided to set up one of the corridors in Uttar Pradesh and the other in Tamil Nadu. During an event organized at Tiruchirappalli on Jan. 20, an investment of over Rs 3,100 crore ($430 million) was announced by OFB, DPSUs and private industries for the Tamil Nadu defence corridor. The government has appointed a consultant for the preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for defence corridors.
  • Chief of Defence Staff: The government has approved in principle the creation of a post of Chief of Defence Staff. An Implementation Committee was also approved and constituted to further determine and finalise the exact responsibilities, an enabling framework for this new post, and all other issues involved to ensure smooth operationalisation.
  • Army Joint Exercise: India and China joint military exercise ‘Hand-in-Hand‘ is being held in December in India, focusing on counter-terrorism operations. About 130 troops from each side will participate in the exercise.

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