De­fence at­taches set to make Aero In­dia debut

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Htnation - Rahul Singh let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com PTI FILE

NEWDELHI:

More than 40 de­fence at­taches from In­dian mis­sions abroad will gather in Bengaluru later this month to take part in Asia’s largest air show, Aero In­dia-2019, to get the low­down on homegrown mil­i­tary sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies, an ini­tia­tive aimed at help­ing the coun­try tap de­fence ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties, two of­fi­cials said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The de­fence at­taches — mil­i­tary ex­perts at­tached to diplo­matic mis­sions — will at­tend the 12th edi­tion of the bi­en­nial event be­ing staged at the Ye­la­hanka air force base from Fe­bru­ary 19 to 23. While a to­tal of 44 colonel and brigadier-ranked of­fi­cers had flown to Chennai last April to at­tend De­fexpo-2018, the at­taches will be tak­ing part in Aero In­dia for the first time.

“The at­taches can help In­dia home in on new de­fence mar­kets. It is part of the gov­ern­ment’s larger goal of po­si­tion­ing it­self as a de­fence ex­porter,” said one of the of­fi­cials cited above. In­dia has 44 de­fence at­taches ac­cred­ited to 95 coun­tries, with sev­eral of them hold­ing the charge of more than one coun­try.

The ini­tia­tive also seeks to en­sure that the at­taches play a greater role in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of In­dia’s de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and en­gage­ment with for­eign coun­tries. The mil­i­tary of­fi­cers will get an overview of steps taken to boost de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing in the coun­try un­der the “Make in In­dia” ini­tia­tive, the sec­ond of­fi­cial said.

More than 550 de­fence and aero­space firms, in­clud­ing 279 for­eign com­pa­nies, took part in the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of Aero In­dia. The num­ber of par­tic­i­pants is ex­pected to be higher this year. After the show, the at­taches will fly to New Delhi for a two-day (Fe­bru­ary 25-26) con­clave ex­pected to be ad­dressed by de­fence min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man.

For­mer army vice-chief, Lt Gen AS Lamba (retd), said the at­taches could help wi­den the per­spec­tive of the coun­tries where they are posted, trig­ger aware­ness about In­dia’s de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and also iden­tify av­enues for not only ex­ports but pos­si­bil­i­ties for mil­i­tary project col­lab­o­ra­tions.

A draft De­fence Pro­duc­tion Pol­icy, re­leased last March, vi­su­alises In­dia as one of the top five coun­tries in the aero­space and de­fence sec­tors in the com­ing years, with de­fence goods and ser­vices ac­count­ing for a turnover of ₹1.7 lakh crore by 2025.

Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy, achiev­ing the tar­get would re­quire an in­vest­ment of ₹70, 000 crore and could cre­ate up to 3 mil­lion jobs. An­other goal is to clock ex­ports worth ₹35,000 crore by 2025.

In 2018, In­dia was ranked the world’s largest im­porter of weapons for the 10th straight year by the global think tank, Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute.

■ Prepa­ra­tions un­der­way for the Aero In­dia air show at Ye­la­hanka air force base in Bengaluru.

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