Indigenisation has ‘been one of the key focus areas of the IAF. How is Indigenisation progressing in the maintenance domain? What is the plan and vision for it?
Indigenisation is one of the KRAs of IAF and it is being pursued with an aim to give impetus to ‘Make in India’ to boost the defence and aerospace manufacturing industry in the country. As part of indigenisation, IAF has successfully undertaken various Life Extension Programmes, Upgrades and Reclamation I Repair Schemes for the existing platforms and systems.
IAF has already indigenised majority of spares that are consumed regularly for maintenance activities of the varied fleet. A roadmap for achieving 100% self-reliance of all regularly consumed spares in respect of fleets with Repair and Over Haul (ROH) facilities within IAF has been formalized and the aim is to achieve the goal by 2022.
We have also initiated a drive to indigenise majority of tyres / tubes and batteries required for our fleets. IAF is working in close coordination with HAL to target 100% indigenisation of all regularly consumed spares for fleets supported by the DPSU. Indigenous Life Extension Programmes are underway not only for various Sub-Systems, but also for the main Airframes and Aero Engines.
IAF has involved various Institutions and Academia for support in its journey of indigenisation. In addition, IAF has recently concluded MoU’s with reputed Institutions like’ NAL and NML to provide necessary guidance and advise based on scientific evaluations.
Furthermore with an aim to promote the defence aerospace industry and to provide a boost to Defence Industrial Corridors, IAF has entered into MoU’s with various State Govt. agencies like TIDCO, UPIEDA, Maker Village Kochi and Industrial consortiums such as SIDM &CODISSIA etc.
What are the current opportunities for the MSMEs in the maintenance domain?
We believe that MSMEs have the capability and potential to meet the indigenisation requirements of IAF. In fact, MSMEs have already done a lot of indigenisation work for the Base Repair Depots (BROs) of IAF and more than 750 vendors are registered with BROs.
IAF has initiated numerous indigenisation cases under the aegis of Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission initiative by Govt of India. In order to give wide publicity, consolidated indigenisation requirements of the IAF are regularly hosted on the IAF website www.indianairforce.nic.in for the benefit of Indian industry.
Also, data on indigenisation of imported spares and material is being hosted on www.srijandefence.gov.in. MSMEs may visit these sites for exploiting the existing avenues for indigenization in IAF.
In terms of opportunities I would categorise the IAF requirements into four categories; namely
(i) Spares, both metallic / non- metallic
(ii) Structural work towards modifications/ upgradations
(iii) Repair & Overhaul, commonly known as MRO
(iv) Support equipment such as Test equipment’s / Testers, Ground Handling Equipment (GHE) and Ground Support Equipment (GSE).
Hence, opportunities exist for MSMEs right from supply of raw material to finished product. Every year, IAF is indigenising approximately 1000 spares, and majority of them are developed through MSMEs. Most of the Rubber Compounds are being sourced indigenously for making Aviation grade gaskets and 0 rings. There is abundant scope for undertaking repair and maintenance of Avionics equipment within the country. In addition, opportunity exists for part tasking of structural modifications and MRO activities at BROs with industry partners.
Roughly, in numbers, how big a market does the IAF maintenance domain offers to the industry?
IAF has hosted around 500 types of items of ex-import spares of high value in Srijan Defence Portal of MoO/OOP. Yes, the biggest challenge is in terms of quantity for each item due to exclusive application only for IAF requirements.
What are the technologies and areas in the maintenance domain where you want the Indian companies/JVs to focus on?
Some of the niche areas of where we want industry & JVs to concentrate are propulsion system, advanced materials, composites, aero lubes, avionics including EW, development of ATEs (Automated Test Equipment’s) and universal ground handling eqpt. Even paints, primers, glues, adhesives and sealants deserve a better look as they can have dual use both for Military and civil use.
3D printing has been one of the highlighted aspects of the IAF maintenance, in recent past. How is it progressing and how can Indian industry further participate or improve participation in it?
IAF has taken the necessary initiative in this direction with approving agencies on board. CEMILAC has already released a certification policy for manufacturing of aviation metallic components through Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) technology. 3D Printing technique is being utilised frequently by the IAF. As of date, nearly 500 spares have been identified out of which close to 200 spares have been manufactured through 3D printing with the involvement of industry. Indian manufacturing companies have played a big role in developing these spares. In future, with development of range of metallic powders for additive manufacturing of aviation grade spares and maturing of technology, IAFs’ requirement would certainly increase.
What are areas and scope for the Indian/JV industry in maintenance domain where the military & civil domain assets could be clubbed and improved?
The biggest advantage for clubbing of Military and Civil Aviation lies in Human Resource and skill levels existing within these two distinct but overlapping fields. Our scope of MRO activities has increased tremendously, especially with upgrade projects on MiG-29, An-32 and MLH fleets being undertaken by our Base Repair Depots, for which we have sought help from Civil MRO players to address our capacity constraints. Certain modification activities on Bison were also completed with the help of team from Civil MRO. We have already outsourced number of activities to the civil industry to support our MiG-29, An-32 and MLH upgrade programmes. We see tremendous potential in this segment and continue to look for areas where synergy could be applied. This is an ongoing exercise and we believe that opportunities are abundant and with the advent of modern technology new areas of interest continue to be explored.