The Indian defence sector is expected to spend Rs 20,000 crore in a decade on products made out of fibreglass for use in the latest weaponry systems, said the top official of country’s premier defence research organisation.
“The fibreglass (composite) content in the defence industry will alone be Rs 20,000 crore from the total Rs 200,000 crore worth spending in the development of indigenous defence systems in the next 10 years,” said Avinash Chander, chief of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), today.
In his inaugural address at the international conference on reinforced plastics here, Chander said the DRDO was working on raising the utilisation of fibreglass material components in the next version of light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas equipped with Mark-II engine, from the “present 65 per cent to up to 80 per cent”.
“The wings for the aircraft are now totally being made out of fibreglass structures. We are going to look at having the entire fuselage made out of them. Once we achieve this, we want the domestic industry to manufacture the secondary (internal) structures in the aircraft,” he said.
On the role of the private sector in making the country self-reliant on fibreglass materials and technologies, he said, “while the domestic industry has the potential, they need to strive for establishing high quality standards, achieve the required scale”, which according to him are the “deciding factors”.
Fibreglass materials are being widely used in the defence manufacturing industry to cut down the use of structures made from metals and improve the maneuverability of aircraft, agility of the fired missile besides reducing their body weight.
Chander also said while a lot of research had been taking place at the various labs of DRDO on developing new technologies in the area of fibreglass, he expects the private sector to ink partnerships and JVs with the global makers to adopt latest industry standards, as part of ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Noting the use of fibreglass has been an integral part of the country's Agni series of missiles, he said research was happening to make use of them in the manufacture of submarines, unmanned aerial vehicles and light-weight radars.
To improve the availability of skilled workforce in the fibreglass manufacturing industry, he said, it was high time the country developed composite materials engineering on the lines of metallurgical engineering.
The country needs at least 100,000 engineers to work in the fibreglass industry in the next 10 years.