De­vel­op­ing in­dige­nous aero­space and de­fence in­dus­try cru­cial

SP's MAI - - EDITOR’S DESK -

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).

Jayant Baran­wal

Pub­lisher and Ed­i­tor-in-Chief

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