Achieving self-reliance in the defence sector took a significant step forward on January 18, as Indian Army signed its first contract worth Rs 96 crore with Anadrone Systems Pvt Ltd under Make-II for Manoeuvrable Expendable Aerial Target.
Under the industry-funded Make in India scheme (Make-II) of the defence ministry, Anadrone Systems Pvt Ltd signed a contract to supply expendable aerial targets to the Army and Air Force. The officials acknowledged it as a critical landmark that will pave the way for more such opportunities.
“It is the first contract under Make II. Efforts are being made to drive industry-led research and development in the defence sector,” said Sanjay Jaju, additional secretary-defence production, Ministry of Defence.
The Make-II category was introduced in 2016 as a major step towards engaging the industry. The contract to supply 125 of the Manoeuvrable Expendable Aerial Targets (MEAT) and associated equipment, under this category is meant for research and development projects funded by the industry with an indigenous content of over 50%.
Though the contract value at Rs 96 crore is low when compared to other defence contracts, the competition saw the winning company pitching its product against defence giant Larsen and Toubro.
The Shikra MEAT system is a localised version of the Banshee Jet 40 system (imported by the armed forces earlier) and is being manufactured by the company. The Shikra is an aerial target designed to be used over land and sea for training of crew on air defence weapon systems. The expendable drone can be manoeuvred at subsonic speeds to simulate an incoming target for air defence weapons.
According to an Anadrone executive (as reported in media): “The Shikra target solution was the only system able to demonstrate its ability to meet or exceed all of the required operational and performance requirements of the Indian Army and Anadrone was selected as a single source vendor”. He further added that at least 50% of the product supplied would have indigenous content.
Over 600 aerial targets have been supplied till now by Anadrone Systems from its Odisha factory in partnership with QinetiQ Target Systems Ltd – a UK defence specialist firm.