Subdued Farnborough Airshow
One of the world’s biggest aerospace events, the Farnborough International Airshow, which concluded recently was a subdued one. There were no orders raining down, like what happened in Paris last year, albeit on the commercial side. The massive cuts in defence spending across Europe and elsewhere, excluding the Middle East and Asia, has put the defence industry in a tailspin. Competition is getting fiercer and in the West the defence and aerospace industry is looking at ways and means of becoming viable, through outsourcing, job cuts, reworking strategies, etc.
Though there were deals struck, there were none which caught world attention. Most of the talk, however, remained on how to ‘balance budgets’ and almost all majors remained ‘subdued’, unlike Northrop Grumman which opted out of the show for strategic reasons. Defence contractors seemed worried that defence spending has taken a hit, led by the US which has planned $500 billion in cuts and have aggressively started looking at emerging markets, China and India being on the top.
PricewaterhouseC- oopers ( PwC) released a report which reflected how the aerospace and defence industry were facing mounting pressures and the manufacturing and R&D shifts that were taking place. PwC has reported that between 2000 and 2011, China ranked as the number one country receiving the most manufacturing investments by aerospace and defence companies, followed by India and the US. The United Kingdom ranked seventh. As for R&D investments during the same period, India has topped the charts, followed by the US, Russia and the UK. Twothirds of the R&D investments were in countries outside of North America, the UK and Western Europe.
In this issue, Rear Admiral (Retd) Sushil Ramsay has featured the Indian Coast Guard – Aviation which is being recast, post Mumbai 26/11. The Coast Guard has projected a force-level of 268 vessels, including 173 small patrol craft, 113 aircraft, 18 Nishant unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostat by 2017. The worrisome factor is that the acquisition and procurement processes have been quite tardy which could be detrimental to the envisaged capacity build plan for the nation’s coastal security.
In his frank and forthright column, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has rubbished Pakistan’s claim to mending fences with India, saying it would not have sent Jilani to India after he had been unceremoniously kicked out through funding separatists by him. The retired General exposes Pakistan’s double-speak.