Rheinmetall in India with ocean of opportunities
One of the world’s leading defense giants Rheinmetall may set up a plant in Uttar Pradesh to manufacture cutting edge weapon systems and sensors. The company will partner with India’s state-run BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals) and may invest upwards of $ 1 billion. Rheinmetall, which produces a wide variety of weapons and sensors, finds India an extremely lucrative market. The company produces armored vehicles, motorized vehicle parts, autocannons, anti-tank guided missiles, anti-aircraft gun systems, artillery pieces and shells, mortars, main tank guns, various types of munitions, ammunition and fuses.
India is one of the fastest emerging aerospace and defense markets in the world. The country have requirements of over $ 250 billion by 2025 and is poised to be the next defense manufacturing hub. The defense necessities of the country are straddling from cutting edge military aircraft, helicopters, submarines to various type of weapons and sensors. With the sole objective of translating this requirement into an economic opportunity and achieving self-reliance, the government of India is setting up two defense corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu respectively. The proposal is yet not vetted by the Ministry of Commerce and Heavy Industries, but it still presents India with an ocean of opportunities.
The point air defense upgrade:
The current point air defense systems of Indian armed forces are of the soviet era and requires a much needed upgrade. This domain has seen a significant technological advance since the Soviet times and thus its high time that India upgrade these systems.
Currently Indian armed forces operate 23mm ZSU-23-4 Shilka, 2K22 Tunguska, Bofors 40 mm gun (L60 and L70). All these systems are being upgraded and India is also planning to acquire the South Korean K30 Biho. However, looking at the future threats, these systems can only cover a limited spectrum. Systems like Oerlikon AHEAD air-burst munitions from Rheinmetall can help India to address this requirement quickly.
The Revival of the Ordinance factory board.
The state-run ordinance factory board is going through a much-needed reform of corporatization and at this crucial time, the organization will require a slow but steady infusion of niche technologies. The ordinance factory board hasn’t maintained the pace with the fast-moving changes in defense technology and the organization has grown so bulky that structural changes are needed at this hour. The presence of Rheinmetall alongside will provide Indian public sector companies the technological push and thereby make up for the lost decades in keeping up with the technology.
Challenger 2 Life Extension Project template for Arjun Mk2
India’s indigenous main battle tank program has not received a warm welcome from the Indian army. The only valid criticism that the Indian army has around MBT Arjun is its weight, with all other fabricated flaws being baseless. The Arjun MK1A comes with 93 improvements over the Arjun MK1 and if the army wasn’t really satisfied with anything else, they would have flagged it. The weight of the Arjun tank is 68 tonnes against 58 tonnes of Arjun Mk1. The requirement of the Indian army is clear, they want Arjun to weigh lesser than 60 Tonnes. The services will accept Arjun MK1A in small numbers, but the final tank should have lesser weight which requires further modification and material change.
The Challenger 2 tank required a midlife refit which Rheinmetall was working with a prototype. During one of the recent video release by Rheinmetall, they showed the main battle tank with a large 130mm gun and an improved turret. This was part of its Main Battle Tank Advanced Technologies Competence demonstration; in a cryptic way, this was a possible hint of how a future Main Ground Combat System will look like. The template will be used to upgrade the British Army’s Challenger 2 tanks and the same template can be followed to scale up Arjun to the FUTURE READY COMBAT VEHICLE requirement.
The new era of 130mm Ammunition
Most of the tanks across the globe are either 120mm or 125mm based on the country of origin. Some light tanks still use 105mm gun as a compromise for weight. With the US, Germany, and the UK moving to 130mm guns the world will see a paradigm shift. As the Russian economy is declining, the eastern philosophy tanks are heading towards sunset. If T14 Armata with a proposed mighty 152mm 2A83 gun does not find a big customer, then the legendry Russian tank industry may perish with the times.
China has emerged as a potential replacement of Russia in this segment but if India could tap the right keys and capitalize this shift then India could be the leading exporter of this military-grade ammunition of 130 MM caliber. Rheinmetall has already started work on a new 130 mm armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) round with an elongated piercing rod penetrator, this is supposed to be made of a brand-new tungsten alloy. In line with the aim of the defense corridor, India can convert this requirement into an opportunity and fulfill the requirement of the forces along with potential export.
Medium Caliber Market
From the barrel burst of M777 during testing to the glitches during testing of SSS defense sniper rifles, the ammunition produced by the ordnance factory board has received so much criticism. The medium-caliber ammunition is a big market within the country and has tremendous export potential. India working with Rheinmetall could produce world-class ammunition for forces and export them to friendly countries.
Overall, the Rheinmetall investment is an opportunity that India can play for its own benefit. This is a win-win situation for both parties and if everything works out, the way it was intended, it will create enormous job opportunities for the youth of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The “Make in India” along with the “Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign” can take India to greater heights in the realm of defense.