Earlier this week, the first batch of fully indigenous Multi-Mode Hand Grenades (MMHG), handed over to the Indian Army by Economic Explosives Limited (EEL), a defence manufacturer based in Nagpur. The chairman of the company, S N Nuwal, presented grenades symbolically to the union defence minister at a function held at the sprawling 2,000-acre facility near Nagpur.
As Singh addressed the crowd, the handover of MMHG is a shining example of the increasing collaboration between the public and private sectors and a step towards self-reliance in defence manufacturing. ‘Today is a memorable day in the history of the Indian defence sector,’ he said. When it comes to defence production, our private sector is coming of age. ‘This is a milestone not only for the defence industry but also for achieving Aatmanirbhar Bharat as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi,’ he said.
The Defence Minister praised DRDO and EEL for their quick delivery of the order amid Covid-19 restrictions and urged them to deliver the next batch faster. India is the first country to manufacture ammunition by private industry. EEL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solar Industries India Limited, began delivering modern hand grenades to the Armed Forces last month. The first consignment of MMHGs has been delivered. General M M Naravane, Chairman, DRDO, G Satheesh Reddy, and Director General of Infantry Lt. Gen A K Samantra attended the ceremony.
In October 2020, EEL signed a contract with the Ministry of Defence to supply 10 lakh modern hand grenades to the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. The deliveries would be spread out over two years. ‘The new grenades will replace Grenade No. 36 of World War I vintage design, which has been in service since then. The MMHGs have a distinctive design that allows them to operate in both defensive (fragmentation) and offensive (stun) modes. They have highly accurate delay times, are highly reliable in use, and are safe to transport,’ according to a press release by the Ministry of Defence.
DRDO’s Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory designed the grenades. In 2016, EEL acquired the technology from DRDO. Over the summer and winter of 2017-18, the Indian Army and DGQA successfully conducted extensive trials across plains, deserts, and high altitudes. ‘Compared to a General Staff Quality Requirement (GSQR) requirement of 95 % reliability, EEL grenades had 99.8% reliability. MMHG’s success is heightened by its 100 % indigenous content,’ said the release.
Singh outlined the steps taken to transform the defence sector into a self-sufficient industry that can serve the present and future needs of the Armed Forces. The Minister spoke about setting up Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, ‘formulating the Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020, allocating 64 per cent of modernization funds to domestic companies under the capital acquisition budget for 2021-22, developed and manufactured’ category for capital procurement. Singh also discussed the initiative of technology transfer to industries by DRDO, praising the latter as ‘an incubator undertaking free-of-cost technology transfers and providing access to testing facilities and more than 450 patents’.
Singh commended the industry for developing indigenous products such as Multi-Mode Grenade, Arjun-Mark-1 tank, Unmanned Surface Vehicle, and See Through Armor. ‘This type of product is not just produced, but also exported on a large scale. From 2016-17 to 2018-19, 1,210 online export authorisations were made. In the past two years, it has grown to 1,774. This resulted in defence exports of more than Rs 17,000 crore in the past two years,’ he said. During his visit, Singh also visited BrahMos Aerospace, which manufactures BrahMos missiles in Borkhedi near the city.