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IANS

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday called for progress to develop 10 tonne multirole helicopters in India so that it can become a global leader.

He said that while India has shown its strength in design, development and operation of helicopters in the 5 tonne category, there is now a need to make progress in the design of 10 tonne multirole helicopters.

The minister was speaking at the diamond jubilee celebration of Chetak helicopter here.

Indigenously designed and developed, Advanced Light Helicopter -DHRUV and its variants are the proof of India's capability in 5 tonne category, he said.

"To become a global leader, we have to make efforts to progress in the design of 10 tonne Indian multirole helicopter," the minister said.

Singh noted that there is a huge potential in the chopper market in India as the country needs more than 1,000 civilian helicopters and an equal number of helicopters in the defence sector.

He observed that external conditions have impacted on the serviceability of India's critical weapons and equipment and therefore, efforts for self-sufficiency continue to be the need of the hour.

Looking at the events of the last few years, the government has emphasised on self-reliance in defence production, and preparedness. "These days we have seen many challenges in ensuring supply lines. External conditions have affected the serviceability of critical weapons and equipment. Therefore, continuous increase in our efforts for self-reliance is the biggest need of the day," he said.

"The burden of protecting a huge country like India cannot remain on the shoulders of other countries for long. We have to strengthen our own shoulders to protect ourselves," he added.

Singh made it clear that India never had any intentions of aggression against anyone, and it has only picked up weapons to uphold civilisational values, peace and truth.

"If peace is to be maintained in the world, then the security of the nations is of utmost importance, and for their security, they should be strong militarily. In the last few years, we have created such an environment, that our armies, scientists and defence makers, can think proactively," he said.

He claimed to be getting positive response from services, research and development organisations, public and private sector industries. MSMEs, start-ups, innovators and academia together are exploring new avenues of defence production, he said.

Attending the diamond jubilee of a helicopter is a unique opportunity for him. "We celebrate the diamond jubilee of institutions and organisations. I often attend them but our Air Force is celebrating the diamond jubilee of a helicopter. It's a symbol of our respect for this helicopter," he said and compared the chopper with Maharana Pratap's loyal and dependable horse.

Stating that the helicopters have served the nation in war and peace for decades, he noted that Chetak is one of the longest-serving platforms in the defence forces.

He said the helicopters not only targeted the enemies on the battlefield, but also saved precious lives by evacuation in case of emergency.

"Chetak is one of the leading design and development projects in our country. Its success gave us the confidence that in the future we can also be successful in such projects. So far, about 700 Chetak helicopters have been produced in our country," the minister said.

"Our country has faced several natural calamities from time to time. Even among them, our Chetak has always been ahead in humanitarian aid, and disaster relief work. Chetak has touched the hearts of people. Our country will always be grateful to this machine and the professionals who operate it," he added.

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