The 14th edition of Asia’s largest aero show, Aero India 2023, kicks off in Bengaluru on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the five-day event with hopes to push indigenous products, modernise Soviet-era equipment as domestic carriers add its fleet. The event will also help in integrating domestic MSMEs and start-ups in the global supply chain and attract foreign investments, including partnerships for co-development and co-production.
Aero India 2023, scheduled from 13 to17 February, displays locally produced equipment and technologies to attract partnerships with foreign companies. India, has been for decades an importer in defence sector, is now exporting defence equipment to 75 countries. Defence equipment exports in the last five years have increased six-fold, Modi said in his inaugural address. India has crossed $1.5 billion of defence equipment exports in 2021-2022. “Our target is by 2024-2025, the defence exports amount will rise to up to $5 billion,” Modi said.
Aero India is an example of the expanding capabilities of India. The presence of around 100 nations here shows that the trust of the world in India has increased. More than 700 exhibitors from India and the world are participating. It has broken all the past records, Modi said.
About 809 companies from 98 countries are taking part in the event. The theme of Aero India 2023 is “The Runway to a Billion Opportunities”. India, under its “Make in India” policy, has been keen on foreign OEMs (manufacturers) such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Airbus to make more than parts in the country and share technology.
While addressing the “CEOs’ Roundtable” at the sidelines of the event, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called upon the Indian and global leaders to support India’s aspirations to become a leading manufacturer of key military platforms and equipment using critical technologies, in sync with the country’s policy of attaining self-reliance in defence production. He conveyed to the top honchos of global aerospace majors that India did not want to remain an “assembly workshop” for military platforms. He asserted India is looking to engage with friendly countries in defence and security based on sharing expertise and capabilities under the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ vision.
The Defence Minister allayed apprehensions of global CEOs of defence manufacturers that India’s push for self-reliance in the sector might constrict space for them to do business here. He assured industry leaders that the government is open to new ideas and is committed to fully harness the energy, entrepreneurial spirit, and capability of private sector partners in the area of defence production. He extended government’s full support towards removing obstacles and facilitating businesses.
The CEOs Round Table was organised on the theme ‘Sky is not the limit: opportunities beyond boundaries’. The participating companies included Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Israel Aerospace Industries, General Atomics, Liebherr Group, Raytheon Technologies, Safran, General Authority of Military Industries, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited, BEML Limited, Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, Dynamatic Technologies and BrahMos Aerospace.
According to an official statement by Ministry of Defence (MoD), this platform was to forge partnerships between domestic and global Industries of the aerospace and defence sector to address the present and future global needs and discuss the importance of supply chain strategy and operations as the world deals with the aftermath of the pandemic and global disruptions. More than 75 companies, including 28 foreign OEMs from 15 countries and domestic companies and DPSUs are participated in the discussion. There was official participation from Sudan and Saudi Arabia. The significance of roundtable discussion as “dialogue between equals” was emphasised.
Many foreign OEMs made announcements regarding their plans for investments and collaborations including Safran, Boeing, Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and Thales in defence and aerospace sector, said MoD. General Atomics and Bharat Forge announced deepening of their collaboration in aircraft components and parts. Similarly, Hensoldt announced the Design/TOT and IPR transfer of obstacle avoidance systems for Indian Helicopters and co development of Advanced Multi-Sensor Electro-optics Airborne Gimbals for the Indian and world markets.
CEOs of domestic companies, including Bharat Forge, L&T and Mahindra Defence Systems, shared their views on major reforms and their impetus for a robust defence system under Atmanirbharta (self-reliance).
The mega-event expects to generate two hundred and fifty-one MoUs, with an expected investment of Rs 75,000/- crore likely to be signed between various Indian and foreign defence companies as per the Defence Ministry.