For the first time in the Indian defence ecosystem, the Indian Army has received the first consignment of Multi-Mode Hand Grenades (MMHG), manufactured by Nagpur-based ammunition firm Economic Explosives Limited (EEL) following Transfer of Technology from Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The subsidiary of Solar Industries India Limited was awarded the Rs 400 crore contract of manufacturing 10 lakh grenades for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. The first batch of indigenous Multi-Mode Hand Grenades (MMHG) will replace British era vintage Grenade No 36 of World War I. The first consignment consists of 40,000 made-in-India grenades and other deliveries will be made over the span of the next two years.
Addressing the ceremony in Nagpur, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed the handing over of MMHG as a shining example of public-private partnership to achieve self-reliance in defence manufacturing and a big step towards self-reliance in the defence sector.
“Today is a memorable day in the history of the Indian defence sector. Our private industry is coming of age when it comes to defence production. It is an important milestone not only in the field of defence manufacturing but also in achieving ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the Defence Minister said.
The Raksha Mantri also lauded DRDO & EEL for the speedy delivery of the order amidst COVID-19 restrictions.
Multi-mode grenades: The perfect match for India’s 21st-century arsenal
The new advanced Multi-mode grenade could be termed as India’s big leap in the 21st century defence sector as these grenades offer multiple advantages to soldiers in terms of safety and penetration attack as compared to the vintage hand grenades.
The advanced grenade has dual-mode – defensive and offensive. In the offensive mode, the grenade doesn’t have a fragment sleeve and is used for low-intensity attacks as it offers stunning effects. The mode is used when the soldier targets the attack within five meters from the point of burst.
In defensive mode, the grenade is assembled with its fragmenting sleeve. This mode of the grenade is used when the soldier is in the shelter and the enemy is in the open area. Its lethal radius has a capacity to target eight meters from the point of burst.
Salient features of the grenade
1) To ensure high reliability, the grenade comes with twin delay tubes.
2) The new advanced Multi-mode grenade has a minimum 0.5 second arming delay for the safety of soldiers.
3) For a deep penetration attack, the grenade has 3,800 unique fragmentation patterns.
Defence Initiatives: Journey towards self-reliance
At the ceremony, the Defence Minister listed out a plethora of the initiatives undertaken by the Government of India to transform the defence sector into a self-reliant industry, which can cater to the present and the future endeavours of our Armed Forces.
These initiatives include setting up of ‘Defence Industrial Corridors’ in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, formulation of draft ‘Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy’ (DPEPP) 2020, earmarking nearly 64 percent of its modernisation funds under capital acquisition budget for 2021-22 for procurement from domestic defence firms, notifying two ‘Positive Indigenisation Lists of over 200 defence items’ to promote self-reliance & defence exports, Corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), increasing FDI limit from 49 to 74 per cent under automatic route among others.
DRDO’s Transfer of Technology (TOT)
The Raksha Mantri also made special mention of another imperative initiative by DRDO’s Technology Transfer to Industries as the backbone of the defence industry.
The research arm of defence has been hand holding defence entities as an incubator which is undertaking free of cost TOT as well as providing access to testing facilities to more than 450 entities.
Notably, Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) has also been working towards achieving self-reliance and fostering innovation & technology development in defence and aerospace sectors by engaging Industries including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.
The journey from defence importer to defence exporter
Commending the Industry for indigenously developing products, Rajnath Singh lauded made-in-India defence products like ‘Multi-Mode Grenade’, ‘Arjun-Mark-1’ tank, ‘Unmanned Surface Vehicle’ and ‘See Through Armor’.
“Such products are not just being produced but exported on a large scale. The number of online export authorisations during 2016-17 to 2018-19 was 1,210. It has increased to 1,774 in the last two years. This has resulted in defence exports of over Rs 17,000 crore in the last two years,” he added.
Further, impressed by the safety and lethality of Multi-Mode Hand Grenades, Indonesia and other foreign countries have shown their interest to buy the grenades from Solar Industries. Indonesia has already placed an order for the grenades as the Indian government has already given in-principle approval to Economic Explosives Limited to supply the grenades to Indonesia.
The Indian government’s bold decision to open up the ammunition manufacturing sector for private agencies is paying rich dividends as until a decade ago, ammunition manufacturing was in the sole domain of government agencies and it was beyond the imagination that the private sector could foray into this field.