[photo: courtesy Ajai Shukla: The DRDO's Bharani Low Level Light Weight (LLLW) radar, which covers gaps in an integrated air defence ground radar network. The radar, which has a range of 40 km against low level intruders, is vehicle portable]
by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 4th Aug 08
In 2001, private Indian manufacturers were first allowed into the defence sector, subject to licences. Since then, private industries, as well as the government’s licensing authority, have faced a conundrum: nowhere did the government lay out what constituted “defence equipment”.
In many cases, there is no ambiguity. Warships, fighters, tanks and machine guns are clearly defence equipment. The confusion lies where an item has both military and civilian usage. Explosives like gelatine are extensively used in road building and construction; radio sets are used by the police, by private security guards, and even by civilian corporations; software, with its flexible applications, is even more difficult to categorise as either “civilian” or “military”.
The Defence Procurement Policy of 2008 (DPP-2008), unveiled yesterday by Defence Minister AK Antony, tries for the first time ever to lay down a list of defence products. A single page annexure (Annexure VI to Appendix D of DPP-2008) specifies 13 generic categories that will be treated as defence products for offset purposes.
This list reflects the work of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) committee, headed by former Additional Secretary of Defence, Mr PK Rastogi. But there is no attempt at comprehensively defining defence products. The list confines itself to broad categories such as “vessels of war, special naval systems, equipment and accessories”, and “high velocity kinetic energetic weapons systems and related equipment”.
While India has moved incrementally towards greater transparency in sensitive items, defence has remained opaque. In 2004, the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) had published the Special Chemicals, Organisms, Materials, Equipment and Technologies (SCOMET) List. This includes sensitive items relating to nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare; special materials; stealth technologies; and aeronautics and rocket materials.
But the SCOMET List remained silent on “defence products”. The list contains seven categories (e.g. Category 0: Nuclear materials, Category 1: Toxic chemicals, etc), each of them spelling out in minute detail the items that would fall within it. But Category 6, earmarked for defence products, remained blank all these years, listed as “Reserved”. Now DPP-2008’s list of defence products will fill that space.
Most other countries, however, define their defence products far more explicitly. The USA defines a comprehensive “Munitions List” under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). In contrast to India’s generic mention of “energetic materials, explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics”, the detailed US list individually names all the explosives it considers of military grade; it further specifies all other explosives “with a detonation velocity exceeding 8,700 metres/second at maximum density or detonation pressure exceeding 340 kilobars”.
Senior MoD officials say India’s new list of defence products is guided by the Wassenaar Agreement, a 40-country agreement (of which India is not a part) that seeks to bring about greater transparency in the international transfer of military and dual-use goods.
India had earlier been nudged towards greater transparency in the nuclear field. In July 2005, India had comprehensively updated Category 0 of the SCOMET List --- which spells out nuclear materials --- after passing the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities Act), 2005. This was one of the pre-conditions laid down by Washington in order to take forward negotiations on the US-India nuclear deal.
List of Defence Products
• Small arms, mortars, cannons, guns, howitzers, anti tank weapons and their ammunition including fuze.
• Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, other explosive devices and charges, related equipment and accessories specially designed for military use, equipment specially designed for handling, control, operation, jamming and detection.
• Energetic materials, explosives, propellants and pyrotechnics.
• Tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles, vehicles with ballistic protection designed for military applications, armoured or protective equipment.
• Vessels of war, special naval system, equipment and accessories.
• Aircraft, unmanned airborne vehicles, aero engines and air craft equipment, related equipment specially designed or modified for military use, parachutes and related
• Electronics and communication equipment specially designed for military use such as electronic counter measure and counter counter measure equipment surveillance and monitoring, data processing and signaling, guidance and navigation equipment, imaging equipment and night vision devices, sensors.
• Specialized equipment for military training or for simulating military scenarios, specially designed simulators for use of armaments and trainers.
• Forgings, castings and other unfinished products which are specially designed for products for military applications and troop comfort equipment.
• Miscellaneous equipment and materials designed for military applications, specially designed environmental test facilities and equipment for the certification, qualification, testing or production of the above products.
• Software specially designed or modified for the development, production or use of above items. This includes software specially designed for modeling, simulation or evaluation of military weapon systems, modeling or simulating military operation scenarios and Command, Communications, Control, Computer and Intelligence (C 4 I) applications.
• High velocity kinetic energy weapon systems and related equipment.
• Direct energy weapon systems, related or countermeasure equipment, super conductive equipment and specially designed components and accessories.