Developing indigenous aerospace and defence industry crucial
The air is abuzz with activity. New aircraft, new weapons, new technologies, new solutions and new ideas are streaming past the Indian horizon as India emerges as the most definitive aerospace and defence market. Reflecting the country’s quest for modernisation and its growing technology prowess is Aero India international air show which is into its ninth edition at the Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bengaluru, from February 6 to 9.
The need to develop a self-sustaining national arms industry is understandable. That India’s efforts to modernise, upgrade and maintain the equipment of its armed forces and to expand its military capabilities have made it the largest importer of major arms. In the past couple of years, India has made record deals, including picking Dassault’s Rafale for its requirement of 126 medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA). The French fighter aircraft Rafale and US F-16 will be displaying their lethal capabilities at the show. In SP’s Exclusive, we have a report wherein the French President Francois Hollande and the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid that India needed to exercise Rafale options immediately.
There was talk that with Rafale making it, interest in Aero India 2013 would lessen, which certainly is not the case, considering India’s quest to be a technologically-advanced nation in all sectors, particularly aerospace and defence. Testimony to the growing interest is the fact that 78 foreign delegations have confirmed their participation in Aero India 2013, up from 47 in 2011. The largest overseas participation is from the United States, followed by Israel and Russia. The Russian President Vladimir Putin who visited India recently, was witness to the signing ceremony of deals worth $2.9 billion. Under the deals, India will buy 42 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets and 71 Mil Mi-17 helicopters.
In SP’s Exclusives, we have indicated the many debuts that Aero India will see including the Indian fifth-gen fighter model – Russian PAK-FA.
Leading aerospace and defence manufacturers from across the globe are here to woo the Asian Tiger which is the seventh largest country in terms of military expenditure—$48.9 billion in 2011—as per the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. India’s neighbour China had a defence spend of a whopping $143 billion. Besides, Chinese military expansion, we have a belligerent neighbour on the western front.
The belligerence took an ugly turn recently when a trans-border Pakistani raid saw not just the killing of two Indian soldiers, but mutilation of their bodies, going totally against established conventions. In his frank and forthright column, Lt General (Retd) P.C. Katoch has said it was time for India to understand that the Pakistani state is controlled by the military-ISI and these two entities were out to balkanise India. The General has been very vociferous in demanding that a dirty war requires a similar response.
In another article, the General has criticised the decision of the government to turn down the Army’s proposal to raise a Mountain Strike Corps. The government needs to be aware of the growing China-Pakistan collusive threat.
Irrespective of the security threats, India is on the path of modernisation in many sectors, including defence and the Aero India show reflects that.
SP Guide Publications is the key official media partner at the ninth edition of Aero India 2013. If you are in Bengaluru do meet us at Aero India 2013, Hall B (B4.18).
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief