The Indian defence ministry aims to collaborate with the industry sector to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) benefits for its resources. The ministry is all set to come up with a detailed roadmap on working closely with the industry on AI, the new age technology algorithms that creates intelligent machines which can work and react like humans. This was announced by Shri. Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.
The ministry has set up a task force which is headed by Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran which will study the use and application of AI in the military. The task force has recently given its recommendations, which is now a Draft Executive Order. At a CII conference on Aerospace & Defence Manufacturing Technologies on the Theme: Fostering a Competitive, Innovative and Robust Industry, Shri.Ajay Kumar said that consultations are underway with the different wings of the Defence Ministry on this proposal.
AI: The Change Agent
Stressing the importance of AI, Shri.Ajay Kumar added, “AI is a big driver in all our platforms. We have already asked Defence PSUs to come up with suggestions as to where they can start leveraging in AI. Developing AI capabilities is absolutely essential part of leading the next generation innovation thrust”
AI is not a one team marvel. The ministry is focussed to promote greater industry and public-private partnership with an endeavour to develop technology, he added.
The Indian Defence capabilities are all set for a new revolution. Shri.Ajay Kumar said, “We must leverage power of technology, capabilities of IT industry and integrate both with the Defence’s requirements”.
On driving the strength of the start-ups, Kumar added that the defence ministry is already working with the start-ups to harness their capabilities in Defence and Aerospace sectors. The ministry has put eleven challenges for the start-up, for each challenge a grant of ₹1.5 crore would be granted to develop prototypes.
On promoting the make in India initiatives in the Defence sector, Kumar added that India imports ₹60,000 crore worth of spares, components and sub-assemblies, thus there is a huge opportunity to manufacture those components in India.
To support the make in India initiatives, the Defence ministry will bring into industry notice the requirements of any part or component sought by the Defence PSUs and Armed Forces. Indian industries which are capable of locally manufacturing them under Public Procurement Order will be given preference. Kumar said that in the last two weeks, the Ministry has notified 77 such items, and another 30 will be notified soon”.
Speaking from the industry, Rajinder Singh Bhatia, President and CEO, Defence & Aerospace, Kalyani Group, added that local manufacturing and Make in India will be promoted as the industry initiatives are not restricted to only a few large companies but to the new start-ups as well. India is one of the top five countries home to the maximum start-ups, in the electronics, IT, IoT domains while start-ups in defence and aerospace sectors have to still catch up.
Need of Ecosystem to Nurture AI Start-ups in Defence
Countries like Israel support technology/start-up centres outside the top universities, and prominent residential spaces bringing technology closer to its people. Such an ecosystem is missing in India. “We need to create such an ecosystem in India. If we show the opportunities for start-ups in Defence and Aerospace, they will come to this sector,” added Kumar.
Jayant D Patil, Whole-Time Director (Defence Business) and Board member at Larsen & Toubro, added, “we talk far too much of our failures than of on our success stories. We need to celebrate success. Amazing success stories in Defence are not talked about.”
With the defence ministry taking initiatives to collaborate with the industry to drive AI benefits, the AI phenomena in Defence and Aerospace has just begun.