By Staff Correspondent
The Indian Army has taken a significant step towards achieving its goal of fostering innovation and technological development in defence and aerospace by awarding the first-ever procurement order of an Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) project. The contract, signed on 14 March 2023, was awarded to Indian start-up Hyper Stealth Technologies Private Limited for procuring an indigenously developed ‘Integrated Mobile Camouflage System (IMCS)’ for Mechanised Forces.
The signing ceremony was attended by Lieutenant General JB Chaudhari, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (CD&S), and Anurag Bajpai, Joint Secretary, Department of Defence Production (DDP) in Sena Bhawan. The IMCS comprises low emissivity and/or CAM-IIR coatings and mobile camouflage system materials that enable armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) to blend in with their terrain background, significantly enhancing capability in stealth for AFVs. This niche technology is expected to considerably boost indigenous stealth technology, facilitating Aatmanirbharta in line with the Government of India’s (GoI) vision.
The IMCS reportedly achieves a reduction in the detection range of AFVs when viewed through a Hand Held Thermal Imager (HHTI)/Battle Field Surveillance Radar (BFSR) tank-based thermal camera under given environmental and weather conditions and signature management by controlling the Visual, Thermal, Infra-red and Radar Signatures of the object.
iDEX was launched in 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during DefExpo 2018 to create an eco-system to foster innovation and encourage technological development in defence and aerospace by engaging research and development (R&D) institutes, academia, industries, including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), start-ups, and individual innovators and providing them with grants/funding and other support to carry out R&D with good potential for future adoption by Indian Defence and Aerospace Organisation.
Managed by the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) (DDP), iDEX has been seen to have emerged as a front-runner in establishing the right contact with start-ups and innovators and has gained substantial traction in the defence start-up community. Currently, there are a total of 48 projects of the Indian Army as part of the Defence India Start-up Challenge (DISC), Open Challenges, iDEX4 Fauji and iDEX PRIME scheme, involving handholding of 41 start-ups for the development of the latest state-of-the-art solutions for the challenges posed by the Indian Army.
For each challenge, a dedicated Nodal Officer and Establishment as Centre of Excellence from the Indian Army is nominated for handholding and providing continuous support in progressing their projects. In April 2022, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved the revised methodology for iDEX, ensuring a significant reduction in procurement timelines to approx 24 weeks, giving a further boost to the initiative.
The IMCS was the first system to be trial evaluated as per the ‘Single Stage Composite Trial’ methodology based on the revised Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 (DAP 2020). A Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued to the developing agency in September 2022, and within a record time of six months, the contract was signed on 14 March 23. Balance Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) accorded iDEX projects of the Indian Army are also under finalisation, with an agreement likely by mid-April 2023.