India surpasses defence production milestone, marking self-reliance shift

With a surge in indigenous defence production, India aims to cement its position as a global manufacturing hub driven by policies and export growth.

India’s defence production has soared to new heights, achieving a figure of Rs 1.27 lakh crore in the fiscal year 2023-24, a notable 16.7% increase from the preceding year. This surge, reported by the Ministry of Defence, shows the country’s progress towards self-sufficiency in defence manufacturing, buoyed by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Surge in indigenous manufacturing

The milestone was celebrated by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, who hailed the achievement as a testament to India’s growing capability in the global defence sector. “Our consistent efforts under the ‘Make in India’ program have propelled us towards record-breaking production levels year after year,” stated Shri Rajnath Singh, emphasising the government’s commitment to elevate India into a leading defence manufacturing hub.

GlobalData’s intelligence on the Indian defence market highlights that the latest draft version of the Defence Production Policy was introduced in 2016 to achieve self-reliance in the design, development, and production of equipment, weapon systems, and platforms required for defence, to create conditions conducive for the private industry to take an active role in this endeavour, to enhance the potential of SMEs in indigenisation, and to broaden the country’s defence R&D base.

A breakdown of the production figures reveals that Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and other Public Sector Units (PSUs) contributed significantly, accounting for 79.2% of the total production value, with the private sector contributing the remaining 20.8%. This balanced growth signifies a collaboration between public and private entities to advance India’s defence manufacturing capabilities.

The achievement is attributed to a decade-long reform agenda to enhance the ease of doing business and promote indigenous production. These reforms, coupled with indigenisation efforts, have fostered an environment conducive to growth in defence output. The result is a boost in domestic production and a rise in defence exports, which surged to Rs 21,083 crore in FY 2023-24, marking a 32.5% increase from the previous fiscal year.

Focus on achieving self-reliance

India’s strides towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing have been marked by milestones, including the delivery of the indigenous Project 15B guided missile destroyer, Imphal, and the issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 156 Prachand Light Combat Helicopters (LCH). The LCH, equipped with weaponry, is poised to replace older models and reduce reliance on foreign helicopters like the AH-64 Apache.

India’s defence production trajectory over the last five years reveals a growth trajectory, with a cumulative increase of over 60% since 2019-20. This steady ascent reflects India’s emerging prominence in global defence manufacturing and highlights its shift towards reducing dependence on imports.

As India continues to strengthen its domestic capabilities, the focus remains on achieving self-reliance across the entire spectrum of defence manufacturing. The growth in production and exports is a statistical milestone and imperative to bolster national security and foster economic resilience.

With projections pointing towards sustained growth in the coming years, India’s ascent in the global defence arena appears to redefine the country’s role as a player in defence manufacturing, embodying the spirit of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ envisioned by its leadership.

The surge in India’s defence production to a record high in FY 2023-24 marks a step towards self-reliance and global leadership in the sector. Bolstered by reforms and growth in exports, India is poised to emerge as a force in defence manufacturing, setting the stage for a journey towards economic and national security resilience.

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