Baba Kalyani, chairman and managing director of Bharat Forge, was visibly excited when Defence MinisterManohar Parrikar dropped in at his stall on Monday during the Make in India Week in Mumbai. On display was the Bharat 52, a long range artillery gun developed by the company. In an interview to Swaraj Baggonkar, he explains what Bharat Forge is doing in defence. Edited excerpts.
What are your plans for the defence business?
We are going in the direction that uses our core knowledge — material, material transformation, forging, machining, assembly, sub-systems. That’s where our expertise lies.
What are your investment plans?
We have a joint venture with SAAB for air defencesystems and a plant is coming up near Hyderabad.
What are your capabilities?
By building the artillery gun, we demonstrated our engineering capability. We are building jet engines — small ones, not as big as those by Rolls -Royce — for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Is the jet engine indigenous?
The UAV engine we are doing indigenously. I have told my engineers in Pune that I want to see the engine in one year.
How much is your focus on the defence business?
Quite a lot. Take the gun programme, for instance. There are four programmes under procurement: the towed gun, conversion of the 130mm to 155mm, ultra-light howitzer, and the mounted gun. We are participating in all four programmes. I am sure we will win at least two.
Is the government moving as fast as companies would have liked?
Our defence minister is a very dynamic person. He is driving the ministry in the direction of the prime minister wants, which is indigenous capability.
Will Bharat Forge look for expertise outside India?
We are already in technical alliances. We have three joint ventures; we may go in for more. You can’t do everything yourself, it is not possible. There is involvement of electronics, radar and all kinds of things. We do not have that technology, at least not today. Anything to do with metal–forging, fabrication or machining–we can do. But, the idea is you make a product that is 95 per cent indigenous.
What will be the investment on all this?
Our strategy is to create building blocks for guns, air defence, aero engines and components. Artillery we can make entirely ourselves. As far as air defence systems are concerned, we are creating a hub in Hyderabad. In aero engines, we are making components for Rolls-Royce, Boeing and others.