Thursday, June 13, 2024

BDL: Now A Global ‘Force Behind Peace’

By Kamal Shah

Bharat Dynamic Limited’s Chairman and Managing Director, Commodore Siddharth Mishra (r), spoke exclusively with Indian Aerospace & Defence’s Editorial Director, Kamal Shah, about the company’s major milestones in the domestic market, successes and future plans in the global export market and contributions towards bolstering strategic self-reliance for the nation, whilst recollecting his time leading the mini-Ratna public sector undertaking (PSU).

IADB Editorial Director, Kamal Shah interviewing BDL CMD, Cmde. Mishra (r)

Q. How do you see BDL’s evolution under your quality leadership?

Ans: I consider myself really fortunate to serve the company at such a time when the Government’s policies on issues like self-reliance, exports, and private sector participation in Defence got a significant boost. 

Post Covid-19 pandemic, the Government gave tremendous thrust to self-reliance or Atmanirbharta. This gave BDL several opportunities to work in this direction to mitigate dependency on foreign nations. In pursuit of this, BDL has set up several state-of-the-art facilities which have taken BDL and the country forward towards self-reliance.

The Government of India’s policy of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ has opened up new avenues for export. BDL has utilised this by showcasing its ‘Made in India’ products for export to friendly countries at various international events. 

The Government’s policy encouraging private sector participation in defence gave BDL to bring out the synergy by combining new ideas from private companies, especially start-ups, with the experience and state-of-the-art infrastructure available in BDL. As a result of this, BDL is in a position to offer innovative solutions to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces. 

The in-house Research and Development (R&D) has been strengthened to mitigate dependency on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and offers innovative state-of-the-art products to customers.

BDL has made special efforts to sharpen its Quality Management System (QMS) to ensure quality products are made available to both domestic and international customers. In addition to the adoption of international Quality Standards and certification for all its production units, the following certifications have been added: –

  • AS 9100D Aerospace QMS for Visakhapatnam Unit
  • ISO 9001:2015 (QMS) for Corporate Office 
  • Green Channel certification for spares of Launcher of Konkurs – M Missile.

The Company has inducted skilled manpower from premier institutions of the country and has trained them to adopt emerging technologies for the development of advanced weapon systems. 

BDL has made special efforts to support and engage with our large Vendor base, especially Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) which were affected by Covid-19 and has successfully restored the supply chain to its normal efficiency. 

The Market Capitalisation of the company has improved by 3.4 times.

BDL, during recent years, has evolved into a company having the potential to evolve as a ‘global leader’ in the missile and weapon systems industry in the years to come.  

BDL CMD, Cmde. Siddharth Mishra (r)

Q. What are some significant milestones/achievements by BDL during your tenure so far?

Ans: BDL, during recent years, has forged an alliance with several foreign and Indian companies by entering into Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) on a variety of business interests. These include Thales, Naval Group, MBDA Missile Systems Limited, Rafael Advanced Defence System Ltd (Naval Division), Dassault Aviation Private Limited, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Larson and Toubro (L&T), Ashok Leyland Defence Systems Ltd, and Newspace Technologies Pvt Ltd., Bharat Forge Ltd, Dhruva Space Pvt Ltd., Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M), Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Limited (TIDCO).

BDL is also setting up a new manufacturing unit in the UP-Defence Corridor at Jhansi, which will be the company’s first unit in the northern part of India. BDL aims to manufacture rockets and propellants for current and future missiles manufactured by the country.     

BDL is aggressively promoting its products in the international market and has been successful in converting some of the export leads into Export Orders to Friendly Foreign Countries.

BDL-manufactured Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) has been inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army. 

BDL has set up several state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities for warheads, seekers etc., at its premises. 

BDL has added a new category of product, namely, Drone Delivered Missile, recently which was unveiled during Aero India – 2023. 

Q. BDL has progressed significantly in the Stock Market after you were appointed the CMD. What are the current plans of BDL for its shareholders?

Ans: BDL wants to give good returns to the shareholders for the money invested by them. For this, the Company is aggressively promoting its exportable products in the international market to tap the export potential of its products. The Company has signed contracts for supplying weapons to its domestic users as well. With anticipated orders in the pipeline, Order Book is poised to grow to Rs 25,000 Crores in the coming two years.

Q. How has Aero India 2023 contributed to the BDL order book and export packages?

Ans: During Aero India 2023, prospective customers from friendly foreign nations have evinced interest for products like Akash, Astra and TAL. I am confident that the enquiries received will convert into new orders in the near future. The Company has also signed MoUs with foreign firms such as Thales, EDGE Group entity, Al Tariq, UAE, and Bultexpro Ltd, Bulgaria, which will open new avenues for the manufacture of state-of-the-art weapon systems by the company here in India for both domestic and international markets. 

Q. What have other countries’ responses to the Akash missile system been like as BDL forays into the export market?

Ans: Several countries have evinced interest in importing the Akash Weapon System. The missile system is cost-effective and is the best among the products in its categories. I am sure the enquiries received will soon convert into export orders. BDL has adequate manufacturing facilities to meet the demand from the domestic as well as export market. 

Q. Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) have been at the forefront of the conflict in Ukraine. Our readers would be glad to know about further developments in BDL’s ATGM developments and what is in store ahead in ATGM technologies offered by your organisation.

Ans: BDL has been manufacturing 2nd generation and second generation plus ATGMs and supplying to the Indian Armed forces. These ATGMs have more than 85% indigenous content. BDL has the resources in terms of skilled manpower and requisite technologies to develop advanced versions of ATGMs. The Company is working on 3rd Generation missiles, which are in an advanced stage of trials. BDL has also entered into collaboration with foreign OEMs to manufacture next-generation ATGMs. 

Q. BDL is attracting eyeballs regarding its exportable products. Please tell our readers about the export packages BDL plans to offer other countries. 

Ans: BDL offers a distinct array of products for export to friendly nations. These include ATGMS (Man Portable ATGMS, Amogha-III Nag, Konkurs-M), Surface-to-Air Missiles (Akash Weapon System), Air-to-Air Missiles (Astra Weapon System), Air-to-Surface Weapons (Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon and HELINA), Torpedoes (Light Weight Torpedo and Heavy Weight Torpedo) and Counter Measure Systems (CMDS and Anti-Submarine Decoy Systems). The Company also offers refurbishment of vintage missiles and Product Life Cycle Support to its customers. 

Q. What are some critical developments regarding Infrastructure at BDL under your direction? 

Ans: Following are some critical developments regarding Infrastructure at BDL. 

The Surface-Mount Technology and ‘High-Performance Computing facility’ at BDL, Kanchanbagh Unit, have been commissioned.

An environmental testing facility for large systems like complete Heavy Weight Torpedoes has been established at the Visakhapatnam Unit of the Company, which is a first of its kind in the Country.

The foundation stone for the new manufacturing unit of BDL was laid by Hon’ble Prime Minister at Jhansi in the UP-defence Corridor. New Unit will be used for manufacturing of Propulsion Systems for all ATGMs and futuristic missiles manufactured by the company and rockets.

A ‘Warhead’ manufacturing facility has been set up at the Bhanur unit, with the capability and capacity of manufacturing all warheads required for products being manufactured at BDL.

State-of-the-art ‘RF Seeker facility’ has been set up at Kanchanbagh Unit for the assembly and testing of RF seekers for all modern missiles.

The second Phase of Ibrahimpatnam Unit work has commenced, where capacity augmentation infrastructure for the assembly and testing of larger missiles and a warhead testing facility is being set up.

BDL is continuously investing towards the modernisation of plant and Machinery and other infrastructure.

Q. Please tell our readers about some Cost-effective export packages that BDL plans to offer in the international market.

Ans: Products such as Akash, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) System, Astra, Air-to-Air Weapon System, Light Weight Torpedo/Heavy Weight Torpedo, and Counter Measure Dispensing System (CMDS) being offered for export have been completely designed in India. The manufacturing facilities are available within India. BDL also provides Product Life Cycle Support to its customers. All these make them cost-effective in comparison to the price of products which fall under the same category in the international market.  

A new version of the Akash Missile – ‘Akash Prime’ has been successfully tested from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, Odisha; File photo

Q. Our readers would like to know about some major future projects of BDL and BDL’s upcoming New Generation Weapon Systems.

Ans: BDL has been identified as the production partner/co-development partner by DRDO for projects like Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM), Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM), Advanced Light Weight Torpedo, Sonobouys, Multi-Influenced Ground Mines.

BDL is also coming out with a new range of products such as Drone Delivered Guided Missiles of 1 km and 1.5 km range designed and developed by BDL, Laser Beam Riding Man Portable Air Defence System (MANPADS), Advanced Short-range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM), Advanced Light Weight Torpedo etc.

Q. What is BDL’s strategy for achieving indigenisation in its products?

Ans: BDL has placed a strong emphasis on the concept of indigenisation across all of its programmes. BDL has commenced the indigenisation of components and subassemblies of various programmes which were being imported by the company. During the last four years, BDL successfully indigenised 47 critical items and saved a significant amount of foreign exchange.

With an average indigenisation percentage ranging between 80-90%, the company’s philosophy has helped it reduce import costs and offer competitively priced products to the Indian Armed Forces. 

The items which have been planned for indigenisation have been uploaded in the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) indigenisation portal, SRIJAN, which is a ‘one-stop shop’ online portal created by GoI that provides access to the vendors to take up items that can be taken up for indigenisation.

In line with the Indian government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative, BDL has taken its indigenisation processes a step further. The company has involved several vendors, including MSMEs, to give a fillip to the indigenisation of items.  

Q. Could you please enlighten our readers about the focus areas of BDL in future?

Ans: In the years to come, BDL will be primarily focussing on the following areas:

  • Development of products with Artificial Intelligence-based Technologies with the active participation of start-ups.
  • Optimisation of existing production lines
  • Maximising the geostrategic reach by increasing export and indigenisation.
  • Co-development with design agencies for new projects.
  • Upgradation through innovation of its products.
  • Offset projects to bring in state-of-the-art Technologies for making in India.
  • Bringing new technologies which are not available in India
  • Anticipating future requirements of customers and working to meet their future requirements.
  • Obsolescence Management and Life Cycle Support of BDL products.
  • Expanding into Foreign markets for our products. 

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