Anil Ambani bolsters Make in India, sets up 11 defence companies

Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign, Indian business tycoon Anil Ambani has forayed into the defence industry, establishing a host of companies and applying for over a dozen licenses to develop and manufacture military equipment ranging from UAVs to spacecraft to submarine systems.

So far, Reliance Defence Limited (RDL) has established 11 new companies focused on defence — each of them targeting a potential market of at least Rs 10,000 crore. These companies will partner foreign manufacturers looking to invest in the “Make in India” initiative or for licensed production of equipment. The companies will also be looking to export defence products from the country.

Mr Ambani has applied for at least 13 new licenses to produce military systems, which are expected to get clearances by the year end. With the latest decision, RDL aims to enter into the core markets of defence manufacturing and production, including land systems, unmanned aviation, defence electronics, submarine construction, and production of missiles and development of engines for all platforms. In addition, RDL has sought permission to manufacture spacecraft and satellites.

The company is also looking to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business for both aircraft and naval vessels. The MRO business will be planned to give life cycle support to products the company supplies to the military.

RDL has been in talks with global defence manufacturers over the past few months. Mr Ambani himself has been driving the defence business and has held talks with CEOs of almost all major defence manufacturers around the world. The defence industry estimates that the requirement of military hardware in the next decade would exceed $250 billion.

The company has already acquired the Pipavav Shipyard Ltd and has hired the former head of the MDL shipyard, Vice Admiral HS Malhi, to look after its naval systems. Currently, RDL is in the race to acquire a $2 billion order for landing platform docks (LPDs) and two helicopter manufacturing projects worth over $3 billion.

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