Aero India 2017 shows new changes in Indian defense market

China Military
Zhang Tao

BANGALORE, Feb. 20 (ChinaMil) -- The five-day-long 11th Aero India held at the Yelahanka air base in Bangalore wrapped up on February 18.

India is one of the largest arms markets in the world and has always been viewed as a net arms buyer. The latest Aero India indicates that while introducing advanced technologies from overseas, native Indian enterprises have also stepped up technological innovation and demonstrated military products with high performance-price ratio (PPR) to foreign users, in an effort to push more "Made-in-India" military products to the domestic and overseas markets.

Meanwhile, motivated by the "Made-in-India" policy advocated by Prime Minister Modi, foreign arms tycoons have strengthened cooperation with Indian enterprises and leveraged on their own technological advantages and their Indian partners' policy advantages to make deployments in India's defense purchase business and take a preemptive step in its arms market.

Indian enterprises promote arms export

Jointly held by Indian Ministry of National Defense and Indian Air Force, the Aero India attracted 270 Indian enterprises and 279 foreign exhibitors from 51 countries. The exhibits included aviation transportation, navigation systems, security systems and airport equipment, and main aircraft that was on display included Russia's Su-30, France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Griffin, and India's homemade LCA, HTT-40 primary training plane and light-duty multi-purpose helicopters.

We observed that this year's Aero India kept a very low profile in arms purchase and Indian Defense Ministry didn't sign any official agreement with foreign arms dealers. The Indian Air Force planned to buy 126 fighter jets worth $11.5 billion, and many aircraft bid for its single-engine aircraft order during the exhibition, but Indian Defense Ministry didn't reveal any information on the bidding throughout the exhibition.

On the other hand, Indian arms dealers made full use of the exhibition to tap the overseas defense market. The Astra air-to-air missile, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher and Rustom UAV independently developed by India were popular among foreign clients.

India has also made progress on aircraft and vessel technology transfer. Christopher, chairman of India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), said that India will export advanced light torpedo worth USD21 million, which involves technology transfer and customization as well. Indian's Reliance Defense also signed an agreement with the U.S. Navy recently on vessel repair and retrofitting services.

Arms tycoons and local enterprises jointly seize market opportunities

Many foreign companies signed cooperation agreements and memorandums with native Indian enterprises during the exhibition. Foreign arms dealers hoped to tighten the connection with Indian market through closer cooperation with local counterparts and to take a preemptive step in the Indian market by following India's defense policy closely.

The only transaction inked at this year's Aero India was the USD8.5-million purchase contract signed between Swedish company SAAB's SAAB Grintek Defense and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), according to which SAAB will transfer to HAL the IDAS maintenance technology. It is learnt that IDAS will be used in the Indian Air Force and army aviation unit.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and India's Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd (KSSL) signed an MOU to form a joint venture in India.

IAI president and CEO Joseph Weiss said that they will provide the most advanced defense system for Indian defense ministry according to the "Made-in-India" policy. The two sides will work together on the Barak-8 air-defense missile, and IAI also reached the cooperation intent with Dynamatic Technologies Limited (DTL) on the production, assembly and maintenance of UAV.

Raytheon Company of the US signed an MOU with a subsidiary of India's Tata Group to jointly produce the Stinger ground-to-air missile parts in India. Raytheon Company said India is one of the top three Stinger clients in the world.

The Hindustan Times reported that French company THALES and Indian company Bharat Dynamics Ltd. signed an MOU to evaluate the technology transfer of Starstreak missile.


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