Defexpo highlights ‘Make in India’ possibilities
Quitol in Goa may be back of beyond. But from March 27 to 31, it beckoned those in defence and aerospace to the ninth edition of Defexpo 2016, the most definite land, naval and homeland security exhibition. The place was transformed from scratch into an exhibition area, though with hiccups, and it signalled to the world that there is so much space for development in India and it can happen anywhere, not just in the big cities.
Defexpo 2016 attracted a record number of participants reflecting industry sentiments to India’s march towards indigenisation, development and an economic powerhouse. According to the organisers, this edition attracted 1,055 exhibitors, up from 624 in the last edition held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. Inaugurating Defexpo 2016, the Minister of Defence, Manohar Parrikar, said: ‘The huge number of exhibitors is encouraging. Maybe Goa has something to do with it or may be ‘Make in India’ initiative has something to do with it.” He gave a hint that the successive editions may be held in Goa and asked the Chief Minister of Goa to look into aspects such as road widening, etc.
Domestic and Export Markets
Parrikar announced that the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) had been tweaked and the latest updates had been put up on the Ministry of Defence’s website. “This will boost the agenda of ‘Make in India.’” It will create a defence industry network not just for domestic consumption but also exports. Similarly, there were issues related to offsets which would be tackled in a few months, all to create a conducive defence industrial base.
Growing from Strength to Strength
The Secretary of Defence Production, Ashok Kumar Gupta, men- tioned that this edition had attracted 1,055 companies compared to 624 in the previous edition and the net exhibition area was up from 27,515 square metres to 40,725 square metres, an increase of 48 per cent. The gross area of exhibition has increased over threefolds to 1,50,000 square metres against 45,000 square metres in 2014.
The exhibition showcased India’s capabilities in land, naval and security systems as well as its emergence as an attractive destination for investment in defence sector. The event provided a platform for forging alliances and joint ventures in the defence industry.
About 47 countries from different continents took part in the exhibition against 30 countries which participated in the last edition. The countries were Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America.
Foreign OEMs Making Moves
Though there were no major industrial partnership announcements at Defexpo, there certainly was anticipation in the air that the government would further tweak its policies to push the ‘Make in India’ programme and also attract foreign players. The biggies such as Airbus Group, Boeing Defense and Security, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Saab and many others showed the road map they have created to be part of India’s indigenisation efforts. Israeli, Russian, US and French companies had
strong presence at the event and were busy in connecting with Indian companies. Boeing announced that it would be expanding its sustainment programme in India considering that the number of military aircraft acquisitions was going up considerably.
While Indian companies such as Bharat Electronics Limited, Mahindra, L&T, DRDO institutions, Ordnance Factory Board, Alpha Design Technologies, Zen Technologies, Bharat Forge, Ashok Leyland and others excelled in their presentations on how India was capable to deliver in the defence realm, albeit starting a bit late. Many of them have tied up with foreign companies to bring in latest technologies.
Bharat Forge, AM General Tie-up
Kalyani Group’s flagship company, Bharat Forge Limited, and US based AM General LLC, announced to bid for India’s light specialist vehicle (LSV) programme using AM General’s battle-tested HMMWV as the LSV’s base platform – with final build and production to take place in India.
“The teaming between world renowned light tactical vehicle provider AM General and Bharat Forge, known for manufacturing excellence, will lead to providing cost-effective and best-in-class mobility solutions for the indian armed forces,” said Baba N. Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Forge.
“AM General is pleased to be teamed with the Kalyani Group’s Bharat Forge to bring our proven light tactical vehicle solutions to India for military and paramilitary requirements,” said AM General President and CEO Andy Hove. “Bharat Forge has proven to be a world-class manufacturer, and we look forward to working together with them to deliver combat-proven mobility solutions to customers in India.”
Rockwell Collins Campaign
Rockwell Collins demonstrated its strong value proposition for customers in India with commercially-based, customisable, technologically-advanced products and systems. “We are fully aligned with the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign by developing capability locally while simultaneously aligning with local strategic partners,” said Sunil Raina, Managing Director India for Rockwell Collins.
BEL Ties-up with Rosoboronexport
The Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Rosoboronexport (part of Rostec State Corporation) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which the two will cooperate for the joint development of various subsystems of major defence projects under the offset clause of the DPP. The industrial tie-up will cater to the requirements of all the three arms of the Indian defence forces as well as the civilian sector.
M777 Howitzer Takes Centre Stage
BAE Systems’ world-class, battle proven M777 ultra lightweight howitzer, for which India and the United States are in discussions for a foreign military sale (FMS) for the Indian Army, took centre stage at Defexpo. The company recently reaffirmed its commitment to ‘Make in India’ by down-selecting Mahindra and Mahindra as its business partner for the proposed in-country assembly, integration and test facility. In addition to the M777 ultra lightweight howitzer, BAE display included the Archer 155mm FH77 BW L52 self-propelled field howitzer along with a full spectrum of munitions spanning hyper velocity projectile, 81mm Mortar, 105mm and 155mm artillery ammunition, 120mm tank ammunition and the 3P ammo.
There were many such products and solutions from foreign OEMs which were new to India and the refrain at Defexpo was to get into partnerships as to make India’s dream of defence indigenisation come true.
(Top) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the Global Investors’ Summit-Defence Sector organised at Defexpo 2016; (middle) main battle tank Arjun Mk II demo on the inaugural day; (above) the naval version of LCA Tejas flying on the inaugural day.