The Navy’s other focus area is Information and Communication Technology or ICT, in which the private sector has distinct strengths. The Navy is on the threshold of an exciting new era in which we hope to network all our platforms at sea; ships, submarines, aircraft, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) with our operational centres ashore. To provide coverage over the entire Indian Ocean, we will need a ground segment and later a space segment.
The Navy expects substantial participation by the private sector in building the structures for “Network Centric Warfare” or NCW, which is dominated by ICT. Providing connectivity for the Navy is a challenge, as dispersed forces operate over large ocean areas, making satellite and radio communication the only options. Moreover, the tri-axial movement of ships at sea complicates antenna design. The private sector has the strength for various building blocks in which software development will play a major role. The task is enormous and will have to be implemented in phases, as it must factor legacy systems already in service.
For all our sincerity and earnestness, the Navy’s past endeavours to indigenize and to develop production sources in the private sector have lacked cohesion, continuity and above all, adequate financial support. We hope to overcome these handicaps through the creation of a Directorate of Indigenisation, which was inaugurated on the September l, 2005.
I want to pay tribute to the wisdom and vision of my friend, Shekhar Dutt, who as the Secretary DP&S made a very generous offer to transfer a part of the Directorate General of Quality Assurance, which looked after indigenisation, to the Navy. With the approval of the Scorpene Project, we have embarked on the path of acquisition of national competence in submarine building. One of the first projects for this Directorate is going to be: to study the Scorpene submarine and to see how much of its components can be farmed out to private industry.
To move ahead, there is a clear need for dedicated groups comprising representatives from the Services, Department of Defence Production, DRDO and the Private Sector to address ‘specific thrust areas’ identified by each of the Services. These groups would be better able to define requirements, identify the model and extent of participation of the private sector, and work out the methodology for meshing in with current acquisition procedures and processes.