NEW DELHI: Imports volume in the defense electronics sector is high which could be brought down significantly once industry achieves Atmanirbharat or self-reliance that would eventually reduce procurement cost on state exchequer, a top executive of the homegrown company said.

“Share of imports in electronics is so high in defence. The more manufacturing we do in India, the defence import bill will go down and it will be much cheaper for the country,” Mahendra Nahata, managing director, HFCL Limited said.

Delhi-based company that predominantly manufactures optic-fibre cable, and one of the suppliers of the prestigious Network for Spectrum (NFS) program for the Indian Army. It is also designing software-defined radio (SDR) for the defence sector application.

Banking on research and development (R&D)-backed indigenous Information Communication Technology (ICT) products, Nahata believes that locally-designed and produced products could also help the government save money and time.

“We are still in communication, and not diversifying but we are only looking at defence electronics. We see defence as a major market but we are staying within our own area of electronics,” the top executive said.

Following the increasing defence budget allocation, the defence electronics segment appears to be promising in India that also included modernisation of armed forces and replacement of older equipment and technologies.

India’s defense electronics market is expected to become close to $70 billion in next 5 years, according to estimates.

The Centre had also come up with the electronics manufacturing clusters (EMC) scheme to provide financial support for creation of infrastructure for electronics manufacturing facilities.

“Our company has also finished designing a high capacity radio relay which is again for army application. We are also designing other defence electronics which includes electronic fuses for artillery application,” he added.It has also developed a carrier-grade Wi-Fi system which it said was based on 100% indigenous R&D including hardware and software, and has already shipped 100,000 units in a record time.

The company said that it had undertaken the product conceptualization, design and development, and have Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) unlike its competitors which are supplying products on the basis of technology transfer from other countries.

HFCL is also in the process of designing night-vision devices, and is also planning to raise the current R&D spend by putting in a fresh fund worth Rs 125-crore.

“In the next financial year we will be spending around Rs 125 crore in R&D. We are opening a new research centre in Bangalore, and are planning to make it operational in April.

In 2019, HFCL had received its largest-ever purchase order of Rs 2,467 crore from the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for turnkey development, operations and maintenance of communication network for the Indian Army, as a part of NFS initiative.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had signed a pact in 2009-10, under which the former had agreed to vacate 25 MHz of 3G spectrum and 20 MHz in the 2G band in phases. In lieu of spectrum, DoT had asked the BSNL to set up an exclusive defence network for communication services.

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