Defence attaches set to make Aero India debut
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 posi- tioning 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.