Your future advertising space? Our media data

Your future advertising space? Our media data

Aerospace and defence manufacturing enhancing self-reliance

Aerospace and defence manufacturing enhancing self-reliance

September 1, 2023 11:29 am

The aerospace and defence manufacturing sector has taken centre stage in India’s quest for self-reliance and advanced capabilities. This article explores India’s rapid growth in defence manufacturing, technological advancements, the role of AI, cybersecurity concerns, R&D support, technology transfer dynamics, nanomaterials, supply chain challenges, and the critical impact of 3D printing and additive manufacturing. 
The importance of self-reliance and bolstering domestic manufacturing capabilities is evident in the current global context, particularly given ongoing conflicts worldwide. India is well-positioned in this regard, attracting significant investments. The country’s defence manufacturing sector is valued at one lakh crore and is expected to reach 1.75 lakh crore within two years. This rapid growth aligns with the opportunity to integrate advanced technologies such as automation and 3D printing, especially as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) gradually embrace these innovations.
Self-reliance
India’s efforts to bolster self-reliance, particularly in the aerospace sector, are commendable. These endeavours include investing in research and development, expanding the skilled workforce, improving infrastructure, and fostering public-private partnerships. Dr. C. V. S. Kiran, Lead – R&D and Strategy, Skyroot Aerospace, added, “The introduction of innovative regulatory reforms, as seen in the space sector, and export incentives further fortify this drive toward self-sufficiency. India’s involvement in international projects enhances its global reputation. While cybersecurity concerns exist, the nation is actively addressing them. Efforts are also underway to establish specialised excellence hubs and expand ecosystems in various domains, including aerospace and defence, focusing on securing capital access.”
According to Maruthi Amardeep, Co-founder and CEO of BluJ Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., India has a long history of manufacturing, but it’s typically been in lower-tech sectors. However, the Make-in-India campaign has changed this perception. It’s about more than just serving the domestic market; the world views India differently. Every manufacturing company, OEM, or design house we encounter is showing some commitment to Make-in-India, whether it’s 10% or 5% of their operations. More than just creating new manufacturing capabilities, Make-in-India has ignited a fresh wave of enthusiasm and a clear direction for the country: to engage in advanced manufacturing sectors. Aerospace is a prime example of this shift.
India’s journey towards self-reliance is still evolving in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles and drone technology services. The government plays a significant role by organising events like Drone Mahotsav and expos, which serve as valuable platforms for networking and forging connections both within the country and internationally, propelling technology advancements. Moreover, government bodies, including the Department of Science and Technology, provide funding and mentoring opportunities.
The Role of AI in Education
AI-based products are valuable tools for expediting product development. However, it’s crucial to recognise that the human brain remains a vastly more powerful resource. Combining human intellect with AI technology is critical in today’s rapidly evolving AI landscape.
In sectors like defence and aerospace manufacturing, there’s a level of trust that can be placed in AI-based products, but more than full reliance on AI is needed, as per Dr Kiran. The excitement around AI has led many students to pursue AI and computer science, sometimes at the expense of core scientific and engineering disciplines. This trend could have significant consequences in the coming years. It’s essential to strike a balance, ensuring that the next generation is equipped with the broad knowledge and skills required to address future challenges. Relying solely on AI without a strong foundation in traditional fields of science and technology can have far-reaching implications for the country’s future generations.
Cybersecurity Concerns
The issue of importing technology is a significant concern. Nowadays, in high-tech industries globally, companies often wrap their intellectual property around software and electronics while being more open to outsourcing mechanical components. This practice poses a threat.
Shinto Joseph, Director – South East Asia Operations, LDRA Technology, adds that self-reliance has to be prioritised in this domain. In scenarios where we might need to use a system in a specific context or against a particular country, the entity supplying the system could restrict its use. Furthermore, there’s the risk that the system may not function correctly in certain conditions, such as within a GPS environment. This underscores the importance of expanding our capabilities and fostering indigenous development in these areas, especially in cybersecurity.
Dr Kiran adds that the landscape of cyberattacks is becoming increasingly turbulent. It’s a complex place to navigate. Even the simplest things can have severe consequences. For instance, a seemingly innocuous email can lead to a web of malicious links, causing significant discomfort to an individual or civilian who may lose money. The impact is even more profound for startups and budding enterprises. They invest tremendous effort and resources into their work, often losing valuable intellectual property and sensitive data in the face of cyber threats.
In the defence sector and critical infrastructure, it goes far more profound. Most cyberattacks target the firmware level and communication layers, often bypassing conventional antivirus tools. This misperception of being secure when antivirus software does not detect threats is a concerning issue. Attackers could be operating below these layers, potentially compromising sensitive networks. Sensitising individuals to this broader and more complex threat landscape is imperative, especially in defence. For us, operating in the realm of unmanned aerial vehicles, security goes beyond safeguarding our company’s intellectual property. It’s about ensuring the security of direct communication with the machines themselves. This aspect poses an even more significant threat than protecting our intellectual assets.
R&D
The aerospace industry is experiencing significant support from research and development, particularly from the Department of Science and Technology. Krithiga Sreenuvasan, Director (Operations), Jet Aerospace, notes that this support includes funding and guidance on the entire manufacturing process. Apart from financial assistance, they’re helping individuals who may need more entrepreneurial experience to navigate the path from skilling to mentoring and ultimately establishing successful businesses. This comprehensive government support is poised to drive substantial success in R&D for the aerospace and defence sectors in the years ahead.
Technology transfers
Global technology transfer has surged amid ongoing conflicts and geopolitical tensions. It manifests in two primary forms: intergovernmental transfers between nations and private entities collaborating with other private organisations.
Dr. Kiran said, “In aviation, transferring technology encounters barriers like restrictions on engine types and regulatory obstacles. Engine specifications often determine transfer feasibility. U.S. regulations, guided by bilateral treaties, can either facilitate or hinder transfers based on historical agreements and technology denials. These factors directly influence what technology can be shared and used in a country’s aerospace domain.”
The crucial question revolves around the value of technology transfer efforts. India has received significant support from Europe, Russia, and France, particularly in aerospace. Despite past technology denials, notably from the U.S., India now contributes substantial technologies globally. This shift highlights changing technology transfer dynamics and India’s growing role in the global technology landscape. We must return to our roots, harness our capabilities, and leverage available resources. Setting long-term objectives, motivating our people, and fostering self-reliance should be our priority. Collaboration with foreign partners is welcome, but our aim should be self-sufficiency while remaining open to sharing technology with others in the long run. Just as we’ve faced limitations from other countries, we should be ready to assist and share our expertise to help others.
Nanomaterials for aerospace applications
Nanomaterials have garnered significant attention over the past decade and a half, although caution should be exercised in selecting practical and viable applications. While nanomaterials show promise at the laboratory scale, transitioning them to large-scale production poses substantial challenges, particularly in achieving consistent quality and reliability, which are crucial for industrial applications like aerospace.
Scaling up nanomaterials to meet stringent reliability standards, such as 95%, 96%, or even 99.99%, is exceptionally demanding, suggested Mr Amar. Moreover, even if achievable, the actual benefits they offer raise questions due to their associated downsides. There are specific applications, especially in electric and thermal conductivity, where nanomaterials find utility, but primarily in small components.
Bringing any application from a laboratory scale to industrial fruition is time-consuming. In the realm of materials, the industry’s mastery, particularly in metals, has evolved over decades, drawing from ancestral knowledge. Similarly, the field of nanomaterials is relatively new for industrial production and achieving reliable and reproducible products, especially on the scale of sensors or batteries, take a substantial amount of time and development.
Supply chain for raw material
Sharing his personal experience, Mr Amar adds that aircraft manufacturing companies face daily challenges in building aircraft and rocket systems, particularly in establishing robust supply chains. The key to overcoming this lies in adopting a long-term perspective. Many large corporations in the country often have short-term views, which they can justify for their reasons. However, to address this issue effectively, a few companies, whether big or small, need to commit to a genuinely long-term outlook, which can range from 10 to 15 years or more. If successful, these companies can significantly transform the landscape by building reliable supply chains. It requires a collective effort with a long-term vision.
In simpler terms, the production capacity of these items can be increased. However, it’s essential to recognise that behind this statement lies a complex reality. Mr Shinto noted that to achieve this, numerous startups and companies must step up and establish aerospace or defence-quality production capabilities that meet the stringent quality and specification requirements. The process takes time and effort and involves fostering a thriving ecosystem of indigenous startups in these sectors.
3D Printing
3D printing offers substantial time-saving advantages. It requires rigorous examination and adherence to critical qualification standards at various levels. Ms Kritiga added that in drone technology, 3D printing plays a vital role. When it comes to producing drones or UAVs in India, the challenge is sourcing components domestically. However, 3D printing is a game-changer in achieving self-reliance. It allows the manufacture of frames, supporting structures, and even propellers required for drones and UAVs.
While 3D printing is widely utilised across sectors like aerospace, defence, and strategic industries, a critical issue remains: the extent to which these 3D printers are domestically manufactured is limited. Achieving self-reliance in this aspect is crucial. Whether it’s in polymeric or metal/alloy additive manufacturing, there’s a pressing need to develop the capability to produce our 3D printers shortly. This move would significantly reduce our dependence on imports and drive our self-reliant development in this technology.
Additive manufacturing
In contrast to subtractive manufacturing, which involves significant material wastage, additive manufacturing, like 3D printing, generates less waste, especially regarding support structures. Additionally, additive manufacturing results in fewer components, reducing the likelihood of failures. As a result, both metal and polymer additive manufacturing have been gaining prominence.
By 2030, the metal additive manufacturing sector is projected to be worth around 50.6 million US dollars. This field is witnessing a significant surge because it provides the flexibility to 3D print materials in various customisable forms, adapting to evolving research or company needs. However, these advantages require meticulous examination and thorough characterisation, both before, during, and after the printing process.
Upskilling
Upskilling has become critical across industries, particularly transitioning from traditional to digital and software-driven systems. This is evident in sectors like automotive, where cars have evolved into software-defined machines. The aerospace and defence industries are following a similar trajectory, with a shift towards electronics and software. To meet these changes, reskilling the existing workforce is essential. Instead of discarding experienced employees, there should be a concerted effort to reskill them. This might require collaboration between the government and private agencies to invest in reskilling programs. Aerospace is unique because older individuals can continue working in the field, making it a lifetime opportunity for those passionate about it.
Shinto Joseph, Director – South East Asia Operations, LDRA Technology
“To achieve self-reliance, startups and companies must step up and establish aerospace or defence production capabilities that meet the stringent quality and specification requirements.”
Maruthi Amardeep, Co-founder and CEO, BluJ Aerospace Pvt. Ltd.
“The make-in-India campaign has changed the perception of India’s presence in lower-tech sectors. It has evolved where the focus is not just on the domestic market; the world now views India differently.”
Dr. C. V. S. Kiran, Lead – R&D and Strategy, Skyroot Aerospace
“Whether it’s in polymeric or metal/alloy additive manufacturing, there’s a pressing need to develop the capability to produce our 3D printers shortly.”
Krithiga Sreenuvasan, Director (Operations), Jet Aerospace
“This comprehensive government support is poised to drive substantial success in R&D for the aerospace and defence sectors in the years ahead.”

Cookie Consent OEM Update

We use cookies to personalize your experience. By continuing to visit this website you agree to our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Events

eMagazine February 2024

Your future advertising space? Our media data

Our Sponsors

Carl Zeiss IndiaCloosSTMCNCPragati GearsNordPurva metalFuji Electric IndiaMaco-cAndreasBibus IndiaInovance TechnologyPMT Machines LtdQuaker HoughtonIgus India Pvt LtdWohlhaupter IndiaReishauerWidmaMeusburgerAutonicsDiffusion Engineers LimitedDiamondZiehl AbeggCarelACE Micromatic GroupFuel Instruments  EngineersFenwick and RaviMMC Hardmetal Pvt LtdMPSTata CapitalProstarmWika Instruments India
Original text
Rate this translation
Your feedback will be used to help improve Google Translate