The 10th biennial Aero India, set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangalore Wednesday, will be more about business interests in the Indian defence market than air shows.
The event will witness the presence of nine defence ministers from across the globe, including Israel’s Moshe Ya’alon. As many as 33 countries and 328 foreign and 295 Indian companies will take part.
Global defence and aerospace manufacturers, who have ploughed only $ 4.94 million dollars in foreign investments in India in the last decade, and Indian firms who have entered the business are looking towards the PM’s Make in India policy as a key step to their future in the Indian defence industry.
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s focus on ‘Make in India’ which aims at improving the country’s self-reliance in defence production and establishing India as a global manufacturing hub,’’ said Mukund Rajan, group executive at Tata Sons.
“Rolls-Royce is helping to drive the indigenisation of the Indian defence industry through our strong in-country partnerships. We are also committed to delivering the government’s ‘Make in India’ vision that aims to position India as a global manufacturing hub,’’ said Steven Gillard, vice-president at the defence business unit of British Rolls-Royce.
While industry captains from India and abroad are positive about investing in India, they say this “enthusiasm” cannot be “perpetual” if announcements do not translate into policies and culminate into big ticket contracts.
Col R N Nambiar, head, Artillery Programme, Mahindra Defence Land Systems said: “The foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Indian majors are keen on investing, forming joint ventures and participating in Make in India. But what do they form JVs for and make investments in? There are no big ticket contracts.”
The point is substantiated by the fact that though the Defence Acquisition Council has approved of a number of projects over the past eight months under the new government, not many projects cleared by the previous government have translated into contracts. In fact, the future of some big projects looks unclear.
As for the air shows, the French Rafale, picked by the IAF as its medium multi-role combat aircraft in a yet-to-be-inked deal, will be the star fighter plane for the event.