General Dalbir Singh, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), along with Lt General M.M.S. Rai, Vice Chief of Army Staff, and Lt General Subrata Saha, Deputy Chief of Army Staff (P&S), formally announced the establishment of the Army Design Bureau during an Army Seminar on Make Projects organised in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi on August 31, 2016. Secretary Defence Production A.K. Gupta was the guest of honour at the event, which was attended by a large number of dignitaries and senior representatives of Indian industry, academia and leading research agencies. The COA S also launched the 'Make in India Army Website' which was hosted live during the inaugural session of the seminar.
In his opening address R.S. Bhatia, Chairman of CII Land Systems Sub-committee, applauded the Army's initiatives to reach out to industry for 'Make Projects'. He emphasised that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) can make successful use of 'Make Projects' in import substitution as with increasing levels of import substitution, India will be closer to its goal of self-reliance. General Dalbir Singh also highlighted the need for government to handhold the industry, especially MSMEs, and assist them to actively participate in the defence procurement programmes.
A.K. Gupta spoke about the initiatives taken by MoD during the last two years to facilitate larger participation of the Indian defence industry in meeting the requirements of the Indian armed forces. He also expressed satisfaction that the Army Design Bureau has finally been set up to be a repository of all technological information of Army's warfighting assets and also act as a catalyst and facilitator for participation of industry, academia, R&D organisations to fulfill the "dream of self-reliance".
Addressing the gathering, General Dalbir Singh emphasised the need for the Army Design Bureau as this will enable faster trials, quicker induction of equipment as well as fast-track the procurement process and the modernisation of the Indian Army. Referring to the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), COA S said that the requirements of the Indian Army are large and only one agency cannot meet all the requirements. Industry involvement is a must as the ultimate security of a nation is self-reliance. He congratulated all in making the Army Design Bureau a reality.
Earlier, during the annual press brief on the occasion of Army Day 2016, the COA S had announced that the Indian Army was soon going to have its own Design Bureau. Rapid changes in technology and consequent changes in warfighting techniques, requires the user, i.e. the Army, to be constantly involved at every stage from conceptualisation, design, development, trials, and production to sustenance. To facilitate the same, the Army Design Bureau shall be the interface of the Army with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), academia, defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs), OFBs and private industry paving the way for high quality research and development of defence products.
In the run-up to the establishment of Army Design Bureau, the Indian Army undertook a series of Army-industry-academia interactions since January this year. Lt General Subrata Saha and his team of senior officers carried out extensive interactions with a view to promoting awareness on Army's modernisation needs, discovering capabilities of the industry and encouraging long-term research in the academia at various regional industrial hubs across the country. Twenty such interactive sessions have been carried out till date. Industry captains of major defence industries, MSMEs, start-ups have participated in these sessions. In addition, the team has carried out interactions with a number of leading institutes like the Indian Institute of Technology at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Gandhinagar and PSG Institute of Technology and Applied Research at Coimbatore. These events provided an exclusive opportunity to industry and academia representatives to understand the requirements and interact with the Indian Army to seek clarifications directly from the user. The Indian Army will soon be publishing a comprehensive compendium giving out specific problem definitions which shall help the R&D fraternity in developing indigenous solutions for the Army's modernisation needs. In order to streamline the procurement process further, the Army has also initiated a number of other steps to include structural changes in the procurement organisations and issue of compendium of revised SOPs in line with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016.
Following the formal announcement of establishment of the Army Design Bureau and launch of the website, a detailed deliberation on the Army's 'Make Projects' was carried out in the second session of the seminar. The Army has identified 10 projects under 'Make' category for manufacturing by domestic defence industry. Indian Army is considering more projects to be taken up in 'Make' category, for which the preliminary process is already on.