18 December 2015 07:27:53 IST

Akash, a success story of ‘Make in India’

The first indigenously built missile air defence system has been inducted into IAF

The Akash Missile System, for which Navratna defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) is the nodal agency and supplies major sub systems, was recently inducted into the Indian Air Force.

Akash has been termed a great success story of the Make in India initiative. Barring a few electronic components, every bit of Akash has the Made in India tag. Almost 92 per cent of the total cost of inputs is sourced within India.

“Akash is the first indigenously built missile air defence system in our country, which has been designed and developed by the DRDO. BEL is the lead integrator of the Akash Missile System for the Indian Air Force,” said an official with BEL.

Core missile system The indigenously developed supersonic surface-to-air missile Akash, capable of targeting enemy helicopters, aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles from a range of 25 km, is one of the five core missile systems of the integrated guided missile development programme, launched by the DRDO in 1984.

The missiles are meant to replace the ones that were inducted in 1970s.

The official added that BEL adopted a concurrent engineering and production model with close co-operation of all the DRDO laboratories and other industry partners. The order for the first two squadrons to Air Force stations Gwalior and Pune were delivered on time.

BEL got a repeat order from the IAF for six more squadrons of AMS in December 2010. The official added that the existing orders are in the process of being executed. Asked if the IAF had placed additional procurement orders, the official said:

“Additional orders may be placed by the IAF based on their requirements, though there is no confirmation as yet.”

Research and development has been the main focus area for increasing indigenisation and value addition in BEL’s products and systems. The total expenditure on R&D as a percentage of turnover during the year was 8.2 per cent, one of the highest among defence public sector undertakings. The company has also filed for 9 patents.

Indigenisation is key Among the significant orders executed during 2014-15 is the missile system for the IAF and the Indian Army, passive night vision devices, tactical control radar, ship-borne electronic warfare systems, hull-mounted sonar, fire control systems, missile warning system and combat management system.

The company said as part of the Make in India initiative, about 80 per cent of the sales turnover is from indigenously developed technologies.

Analysts have pointed out that the competitive risk for BEL remains low over the next few years from the private sector, as it remains a leader in radar, weapons systems and electronic warfare.

As of April 1, 2015, BEL had an order book of around ₹22,100 crore.

Sales rise 8.43% BEL ended the financial year 2014-15 by registering sales turnover of ₹6,694.57 crore, a growth of 8.43 per cent over the previous year’s turnover of ₹6,174.23 crore.

BEL achieved exports worth $57.85 million in 2014-15, registering a growth of 37.7 per cent over the previous year’s $42 million.

Analysts added that fast track clearances and increase in share of electronics in defence equipment are expected to lead to 20 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the defence electronics industry.