Transfer of Technology

Self-Reliance in Defence Production is and  has been avowed the objective of our National Security Policy.. It has been our endeavour too though without much success. 

Considering our technological capabilities, time frame required, availability of resources (including financial), availability of Technology etc following approaches have been adopted to acquire weapons :

(i) R&D to Manufacture our own Equipment 

(ii) Outright Procurement of the Equipment 

(iii) Leasing of Equipment ( Ref DAP  2020)

(iv) Transfer of Technology (ToT) based manufacture of Equipment.

There are very limited  success stories as far as first approach of R&D  is concerned barring areas of Missiles, Nuclear and Space.  Regarding the second & third approach of ‘Procurement’  and Leasing , these do not add much to our Defence Production Capabilities except in indigenizing spares etc.  However the fourth  approach of ‘ToT’, has the potential to quickly develop defence manufacturing capabilities in areas where we lack same. It is mentioned that ToT has a cost attached to it.  

 As the Defence Production eco system has evolved in the Country since Independence the State owned Companies/Organizations played major role and had the prime of the place. These organisations have been meeting the requirements of the Armed Forces by manufacturing   weapon systems and their components mainly based on manufacturing ‘know how’   obtained from some or the other major Weapon System manufacturer/OEM abroad. The know how was through Transfer of Technology (ToT) or  Licensed production.  In the process of ToT/licensed production in Defence Production, the manufacturing lines were established under guidance of Principals/OEMs  thereby building capacity and capability for Defence Production. 

DAP 2020 ( Defence Acquisition Procedure) issued in Sept 20 states as below ( pg 206- Para ‘c’  of Preamble of TOT ) :--
‘The ToT shall be comprehensive, covering all aspects of design/development, manufacturing know-how and detailed technical information which will enable the Production Agency to manufacture of systems, sub-systems, assemblies, components, materials etc by Indian ToT partner as well as for repair, overhaul, besides production from SKD/CKD/IM Kit, production from raw material and component level. Design data shall include the details that are needed to give design disposition during production on deviation/concession; modify/upgrade the license product and substitute parts and systems of the license product as required by the certifying agency and the production agency’

Above was the spirit too of all the Defence Procurement Procedures (DPPs),   the  earlier avatars of  present DAP. 

The reading of the objectives of ToTs as above, will make us believe that with so much of in depth  Technical Know How transferred to us by various OEMs  since the earliest ToT several decades ago, it must have contributed to build strong foundation of  our defence production eco system with capabilities  to at least upgrade  the respective   weapon system. However that is not the fact and we are nowhere near achieving the objective of self reliance.

Whatever infrastructure for Defence Production could be created due to the  build to print system of ToT,  it is not of much  consequence as  we have not been able to  develop capability  to design & develop our own weapon system based on these ToTs. 

What is the reason for this state of affairs.  Though there are several factors, behind this state of affairs, we at SAPI  feel that absorption, assimilation and  leveraging  the ToTs  to make our own Weapons, is one of the most critical reason for our failure in designing , developing and  manufacturing our own Arms  & Ammunition based on ToTs. SAPI will focus in  this niche area of TOT absorption.  

Its here we in SAPI would like to spread awareness and exhort stakeholders to strive to work on absorption & assimilation of ToTs and leverage these to come up with our own weapon systems. 

In line with the mission SAPI will strive to create awareness and sensitize the stakeholders viz. Industry, Academia, R&D specialists, Technologists, Workers/Supervisors, Managers, Users, Strategic Affairs experts, Policy experts   etc to internalise and absorb the Technologies transferred by OEMs besides encouraging  synergy between all stakeholders.

Further we at would work to facilitate stakeholders in creation of eco system for application of the knowledge gained from ToTs  and Integrating ToTs with Innovation and New Age Technologies to develop capability to Conceptualise, Research, Develop our own Weapon systems and platforms.  

It will be our endeavour to make our Mission as a Movement


We at  SAPI believe that knowledge knows no barriers and has to flow freely so we intend to structure the format of our discussions/deliberations such that it makes SAPI  a vibrant forum working in focussed way  to achieve its Vision and Mission. 

Therefore SAPI aims to initiate discussion/deliberation in appropriate format  focussing on specific issues thus  exhorting  the stakeholders to express their valuable views. This exchange of views we feel will enrich all the stakeholders and build synergy. The ideas thus generated in the related deliberations  would form part of  valuable repository of ideas etc  we intend to create. 

Some salient activities SAPI will pursue are as below:

  • Organize seminars, roundtables, webinars, workshops, conclave, exclusive discussions etc 

  • Platform to share and exchange information  

  • Deliberations to focus on   absorption of Technology, Essentials for assimilating ToTs, etc.

  • Explore formulation of index for absorption of ToTs.

  • Case Study of  success  and failures in leveraging of  ToTs 

  • Innovation in Defence, Integration of Electronics and New Age technologies. 

  • Involve Academia in relevant areas of Technology Absorption 

  • Strive for an informal group/cadre of Defence Technologists having deeper understanding on ToT 

  • Facilitate relevant  Non-Defence Sector Industries to interact and better understand the Defence Sector and build synergy. 

  • Facilitate Technology information and dissemination sessions by OEMs 

  • Facilitate proliferation of ‘tacit’ (undocumented) knowledge to make up for missing links in Technology absorption based on Technology transfer.

  • Awareness on Creation of database of technologies absorbed and building repository of ToTs. etc.

As mentioned above SAPI is focussing in this niche area which has  largely remained neglected therefore we may have to channelise thoughts in this direction so stakeholders can develop appropriate perspective of problem as well as its likely solution. So we are inviting suggestions via this site and its social media links  on topics to be taken up and he ideas on solutions.

Just for guidance  some tentative topics are:-  

  • What is the reason behind our failure to leverage ToTs ?

  • What is the definition of ToT and what are  its elements.

  • Presently TOTs are adjunct to the main procurement case of a specific weapon. In this situation does the specifics of ToT  and related negotiations get the same attention as the main procurements.

  • While implementing ToTs  did  we restrict ourselves to only Documents ( like Drawings, Process sheets , inspection & Quality schedules etc) and some hand holding in establishing Production/Assembly line  as enabled by the  OEM, thus leaving us with capability to build to Print only. 

  • Was it really a ToT or merely Licensed Production 

  • While implementing the process of ToT did we consider aspects like- How, Why, What, etc besides going deep into how the idea of the particular Weapon system was conceptualised etc. 

  • Intellectual Property ( IP) issues in ToT absorption and Leveraging same.
  • As the process of implementation of ToTs has happened,  it seems we have assumed that the ToT will automatically result in acquiring  capability for manufacture of future weapons.

  • Do we work in silos i.e.  all concerned Stake holders including Users are not working as a comprehensive Team but rather in their own isolated ways.  Eg. It is essential that Scientists/Engineers should fully understand the user perspective as they have to use their engineering Skills & Knowledge to conceptualise a new weapon which could be a force multiplier for the users. 

  • Is there need to redefine the term ToT 

  • Is it that we lack to apply Innovation or think laterally vis a vis the ToT.?

  • Do we have appropriate Defence Technologists/Engineers  in the country who can seamlessly build  capability to make our own newer weapons from the ToTs. 

  • Are we risk averse as any new idea is full of risk of not being successful?

  • What are the Policy prescriptions at both Macro and Micro levels in the Technical as well as Administrative areas regarding ToTs ?

  • We have contracted several ToTs in the past. Have we done any stock taking that how many have served its purpose.

While above are few  questions which come to our mind while examining the issue of leveraging ToTs.   there is urgent need to find answers to these issues and many more others which are not mentioned above. 

We request you to indicate your willingness to join the first webinar in the email column of the website. 

Look forward to learn from your insights in this field. 

Created By Akshay Kharade At Widespread Solutions

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