by Girish Linganna

The first home-built nuclear submarine in India, the INS Arihant, was launched on the day that India commemorated the tenth anniversary of her victory over Pakistan in the Kargil War of 1999. The project had been in the works since 1984, with construction starting in 1998.

Without the hype surrounding today’s Make-in-India initiatives, the debut was actually evidence of the nation’s industrial prowess. L&T manufactured the hull; TATA Power Strategic Engineering Division provided the control systems; and Walchandnagar Industries supplied the steam turbine systems. The reactor was helped to shrink to fit inside the submarine’s hull by scientists from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

Since India joined just a handful of countries with the technical capacity to construct and run nuclear-propelled submarines, the launch of INS Arihant was very noteworthy.

Shortly after the launch, India tested the 350-kilometer-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile Dhanush, a naval version of the Prithvi. The 500-kilogramme payload capability of Dhanush allows it to strike targets both on land and at water using both conventional and nuclear bombs.

Since then, throughout the past 15 years, India’s defence sector has seen a considerable transition, the most essential being the indigenisation of the sector. The Narendra Modi government’s strong support for the Make-in-India initiative has been instrumental in the significant increase of India’s defence exports to a record ₹21,083 crore, exceeding a 30% increase from the previous year.


Indian manufacturers are expanding their capacities and capabilities as a result of an indigenisation list that prioritises import substitution. This list includes Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicles, Articulated All-Terrain Vehicles, Remotely Piloted Air Borne Vehicles with payloads of up to 2 kg for the Army, and Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems, among others.

Additionally, the government has allocated 75% of the capital acquisition budget for procurement from local enterprises. This is also the reason why investors have shown significant interest in companies like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders in recent years.

India’s exports from companies like HAL include Dornier aircraft, and advanced light helicopters, additionally list includes BrahMos missiles, artillery guns, radars, and armoured vehicles. A report by Jefferies in April, as cited by Forbes, suggests that state-owned companies and their suppliers should take the lead in this effort, as highlighted in recent government-to-government defence talks.

As of May 7, the market value of Bangalore-based public sector company HAL has grown from ₹67,000 crore in August 2022 to over ₹2.48 lakh crore, making it India’s largest public sector defence company by market capitalization. Another public defence manufacturer, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), is valued at ₹1.66 lakh crore, and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders is worth ₹43,000 crore. This demonstrates strong investor confidence in India’s defence sector.

Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defence at Frontier India