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Aero show commences today: Focus on joint development and exports, says Govt

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Sunday that India will address both export potential and joint development of defence equipment at the defence ministers’ summit slated for February 14 as part of Aero India 2023.

Singh addressed the media prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Monday inauguration of the fourteenth edition of Aero India. From the 13th to the 17th of February, 98 countries will be present at the biennial event.

It is anticipated that the defence ministers of 32 nations, the air commanders of 29 countries, and 73 CEOs of global and Indian OEMs will attend the event where 809 defence firms, including MSMEs and start-ups, will display unique technologies and the growth of the aerospace and defence sector.

Aero India-2023 coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war this month. In response to a question on the war-related event, Singh stated, “We want to make India self-sufficient and grow exports.” Towards this end, he stated that efforts are being made to entirely indigenousize the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. The LCA Tejas Mk 1 features a GE F404 engine.

During the five-day exhibition, titled ‘The runway to a billion opportunities,’ India will focus on showcasing indigenous equipment and developing partnerships with foreign industries. An estimated 5 lakh tourists are scheduled to attend.

India is likewise striving to diversify its arsenal of weaponry, the most of which are now of Soviet provenance. This is evidenced by the involvement of Russian and western corporations and the scheduled bilateral meetings.

Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Israel Aerospace Industry, BrahMos Aerospace, Army Aviation, HC Robotics, SAAB, Safran, Rolls Royce, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), and BEML Limited are among the most prominent exhibitors.

The event will also highlight design leadership, UAV sector expansion, defence space, and cutting-edge technologies. “The purpose of the event is to promote the export of indigenous aviation platforms such as the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas, the HTT-40, the Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), and the Advanced Light Helicopter” (ALH). It will integrate local MSMEs and startups into the global supply chain and attract international investments, such as co-development and co-production partnerships, according to the ministry.

Singh stated that a robust and self-reliant defence sector will be crucial to India’s future as one of the top three global economies. “Achievements in the defence sector have broad repercussions for the Indian economy. The technologies created on the battlefield are equally applicable to civilian applications. In addition, society develops a disposition towards science and technology and creativity, which contributes to the nation’s overall growth,” he stated.

The summit of defence ministers with the subject “Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defense (SPEED)” will be a major event. According to the defence ministry, the conclave will strengthen collaboration for capacity building (through investments, R&D, joint venture, co-development, co-production, and provisioning of defence equipment), training, space, artificial intelligence (AI), and marine security. “The conference provides a chance for the defence ministers to work together to further the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ goal,” the ministry said.

There will be bilateral discussions between, among others, the defence minister, chief of defence staff, and defence secretary. On February 13, the defence minister will preside over a ‘CEOs Round Table’ that is designed to boost industry-government relations. CEOs from 26 countries, including Boeing, Lockheed, Israel Aerospace Industries, General Atomics, Liebherr Group, Raytheon Technologies, Safran, General Authority of Military Industries (GAMI), etc., as well as domestic PSUs such as HAL, BEL, BDL, BEML Limited, and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited, will attend the event.

Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, and BrahMos Aerospace, three of India’s premier private defence and aerospace manufacturing businesses, are anticipated to attend.

During the Bandhan event on February 15, about 251 MoUs with an expected investment of Rs 75,000 crores are expected to be signed with various Indian and foreign defence firms and organisations.

Aero India 2023 will have a Karnataka pavilion that will highlight the state’s economic opportunities. “It is a joy to once again host Aero India. The credit goes to the ancestors who established an aeronautical environment… This year’s Aero show will have the most exhibitions, demonstrations, and gatherings, according to Karnataka’s chief minister, Basavaraj Bommai.

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