The current edition of Aero India exhibition is witnessing a shift of priorities from buying to selling, marking an aggressive entry of Indian defence products in the global arena.
Indian-made military products such as LCA Tejas, DRDO-made AEW&Cs, Astra missile, Pinaka Mk1 and Mk2 rockets, Rustom 1 & 2 UAV, warships and the Brahmos missile are getting prominence in talks with foreign delegations with an invisible “for sale” tag attached to them.
In addition, selling of Indian expertise in MRO of both aircraft and naval assets is being projected as a success;, Reliance Defence’s announcement of a contract to overhaul of US naval ships, Su-30 pilot training and maintenance tie-ups with Vietnam and Malaysia are among the other successes being talked about.
India’s recent military exports include a 21 million contract for the Advanced Light Torpedo, Shyena with Vietnam while Sonars have been supplied to Myanmar, S. Christopher Chairman, DRDO said during a press conference on Aero-India international seminar-2017 Saturday.
“When we have Pinaka Mark 3 (Multiple barrel rocket system) already, so what should we do with Pinaka Mark 1 and Pinaka Mark 2? Should we abandon using it? or if we can produce at a reasonable cost and export to the neighbouring countries, we are going to return back the money invested on development and production. We are also talking about Akash export. Even though Akash has passive phased array (most of the countries are working on active phased array) we can very well sell the technology if it raises any interest elsewhere for lower costs”, Christopher added.
India’s DRDO is talking not only about exporting products but also technology and even exclusive manufacture for a foreign client. “Smaller AEW&Cs can be exported to other countries and can develop it exclusively for somebody,” Christopher said.
Akash, the medium range surface-to-air missile, developed by DRDO and manufactured by the public sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd can hit targets like aircraft, tanks, drones etc. The organisation had also got enquires from other countries for different products.
India’s three decades old LCA Tejas project is finally getting some solid export push. “We will have Prototype vehicle 5 and 6 (PV5 and PV6) at the air show. We will allow prospective customers to fly the aircraft. A limited series production variant of the aircraft will also be present on static display. We will people to check the real cockpit, unlike previous times when we would have mock-up of it,” Cmde CD Balaji (retd), chief of Aeronautical Development Agency said.
Reliance Defence, an Indian private firm has recently signed an agreement with US Navy for repair and alteration services for warships of the largest forward-deployed Seventh Fleet operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean earlier this month.
India’s Intech DMLS Limited, a metal 3D printing provider and metal additive manufacturing establishment in aviation sector, has launched first indigenously developed jet engine series for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Remote Controlled (R/C) Aircraft.
“Another Jet engine SJE-350 with a thrust of 350kgf, designed for strategic applications is currently being manufactured. The company also plans to expand into the Turbo Shaft/Fan category in the near future,” Balaram added.
Indian companies wanting to export military hardware are encountering a friendly bureaucracy. “Earlier it would take months to secure an export licence. But since the last year or so, it has been reduced to a few weeks”, said an executive of MKU, an exporter of helmets, bullet-proof jackets and armouring solutions.
India has long been perceived as a net buyer and the world’s biggest ‘open’ market for military hardware. But that seems about to change.