Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India, stated in a release dated 8th February 2023 that it has signed a contract worth Rs. 2,585 crore with the EPC giant, Larsen and Toubro (L&T), for the procurement of modular bridges.
L&T to Produce 41 Sets of DRDO-Designed Modular Bridges
L&T will be manufacturing 41 sets of modular bridges for the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army, which have been indigenously designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
These modular bridges are designed to provide quick passage across ditches, canals and other obstacles, and are carried by Heavy Mobility Vehicles. “Each set shall be capable of mechanically launching a single span fully decked 46-meter assault bridge”, the MoD release stated.
Every modular bridge set comprises seven carrier vehicles and two launcher vehicles. The carrier vehicles will be 8×8 Heavy Mobility Vehicles, while the launcher vehicles will be 10×10 Heavy Mobility Vehicles. These modular bridges can be easily launched and retracted across obstacles as per the army’s requirement.
New Modular Bridges to Replace Medium Girder Bridges
The aforementioned modular bridges will replace Medium Girder Bridges (MGBs) that the Indian Army is using as of now. The MGBs currently in use is manually launched and have a shorter span than the contracted modular bridges. The new modular bridges offer quicker deployment and retraction as compared to MGBs.
Private Participation in the Indian Defence Sector
Private entities were allowed to invest in the Indian defence sector only after 2001. Since then, over 300 private players have been granted industrial licenses in the Indian defence sector.
MoD has stated in its aforementioned statement that this contract for modular bridges is aimed at promoting self-reliance in terms of defence manufacturing. India’s imports in the period from 2017-18 to 2021-22 stood at about Rs. 1.93 lakh crore.
At the DefExpo 2022, which was held in October last year, the Indian Defence Minister set the country’s defence export target for 2025 as Rs. 35,000 crore.
To attract investments in the defence sector, the Government signed 53 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in February 2023 with various industries organisations for the Tamil Nadu Defence Industrial Corridor (TNDIC), which is targeted at promoting defence sector manufacturing. As of now, Rs. 3,861 crore has already been invested in the TNDIC.
Another major recent private investment in the Indian defence sector includes the upcoming Tata-Airbus aircraft manufacturing facility which will produce C-295 aircraft for the Indian Air Force.