Defexpo 04 is slated to be the India’s biggest
Defence (land and naval systems) show and all the big ticket
companies are there in Delhi with a fairly high level of delegations
for the opening by Defence Minister George Fernandes on 4 Feb.
The RM returned recently from S Africa where he had talks with the
Defence Ministers of Brazil and host country.
The main big business prospects are sited. The Air
Defence Ship (ADS) of the Navy has many prospects and Fincanteri,
Izar and DCN in that order, have been looking at it as the prime
consultants since India CSL which will build the big 37,500 platform
have little experience in this class of ships. UK has the 66 AJT
contract, but the UK Government is unsure of the sale of INVINCIBLE
or the Harriers, which could interest the Indian Navy, so UK looks
for other prospects. The GRSE and Navy will also be looking out for
equipment for the planned ASW Corvette and the 6 Survey ships and
MCMVs are on the cards.
The Russians with good business already in hand have
stakes in the Type 17 and supply of missiles and the Gorshkov/MiG
29Ks and helicopters. Media keeps reporting the Akulas and the TU 22
M. On the Army front the additional 155mm Gun looks like going to
South Africa and Bofors way and the Army is all set to upgrade the
Battalions with $700 million. In all this the UK has lagged.
The pre Defexpo 04 activities in New Delhi therefore
kicked off on 3rd February with a well attended day long
India–UK Defence Industry seminar, where over 32 delegates from
British Industry and DESO, who interacted with over 60 Indian
defence industry representatives and some Government officials. This
was the second such seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian
Industries (CII) and the Defence Manufacturers Association of UK
(DMA), who have signed an MOU to facilitate trade.
Mr Atul Kirloskar Chairman of CII’s National
Committee on Defence welcomed the foreign guests, which included
Lord Bach, UK’s Minster of procurement and Gen Shankar Roy
Chowdhury, Member of Parliament. UK’s High Commissioner in India
Sir Michael Arthur in his opening remarks spoke glowingly of
India’s buoyant economy and asked delegates from Britain to look
at the opportunities in India in a mutually beneficial manner. He
lauded the 66 Hawk AJT agreement and assured that UK looked to
greater opportunities as India’s second largest International
address by Lord Bach, UK’s Minister for Defence Procurement began
with a personal note by him. He revealed that he had spent his
childhood in Chennai and hence confessed that his affection for
India was abiding. He dwelt on the UK–India relationship and how
strong they were, and also referred to the 66 Hawk AJT deal which
was cleared by the Government of India immediately after UK itself
took a decision to select the Hawk, as the UK’s trainer of choice,
and looked forward to the signing of the contract soon.
Bach spoke of the many changes that had taken place in India’s
Industrial policy to open the defence sector to private
participation, and the progress made. Later in the day Maj. Gen.
Mrinal Suman (Retd) who was earlier in the Ministry of Defence
elaborated on the procurement procedure in India titled
“Understanding Indian Procurement Procedures” which are now
available on the net.
Bach surveyed Britain’s defence complex which employs 300,000
workers in hitech industries and services and contributes to 3% of
the industrial production in UK. He spoke of UK’s recent white
paper on Defence and the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and the
achievements in the Iraq war. He stated that net centric enabled
warfare was now the way ahead for all modern Armed Forces, and the
mosaic of defence industries in the world had undergone many
changes. Large National companies like BAE and Rolls Royce were now
International with footprints all over the world in joint
collaborations. UK looked to India in that vein, and he urged
delegates to meet and discuss prospects for both countries.
and control of defence industries are less relevant and he
congratulated the GOI for allowing 26% FDI in the defence sector as
that would allow inflow of technology and jobs to the recipient
nation. He also explained the pillars of UK’s Defence Industrial
policy. These include best value for acquisition and to meet the
competition, larger R&D with access to it, close working with
industry in UK and abroad, and to open market access. He stated UK
had the most open defence industry in the world. On India he stated
that India has large Armed Forces and DESO has an office in India to
help UK Defence industries’ to get a market in India and vice
versa, as UK wishes India should have best of equipment and the best
of relations with UK.
Shankar Roy Chowdhury Member of Parliament and Member Standing
Committee of Defence admitted that India had vast equipment needs
for its manifold security concerns. He referred to the recent détente
with Pakistan as a good sign but that did not detract from India’s
security concerns. He dwelt on Indian Armed Forces traditional
procurement polices from Ordnance factories and Defence PSUs, and
explained how post 1965 India had no option but to look to the
Soviet Union for procurement, both for availability and prices.
Hence, Indian Armed Forces predominantly had Eastern oriented
equipment and he touched on the technology denial regimes which
precluded induction from the West in the past.
the present scenario he recommended that foreign defence companies
should look at this scenario, and see where they can upgrade present
equipment and offer new technologies. For reasons of security,
production of small arms and ammunition was still in government
hands as their safe transportation was crucial. However, in other
spheres the opportunities were many and he wished the delegates well
in their efforts.
Vice Marshel Gavin Mackay Senior Military Adviser DESO spoke on the
Indo–UK Defence relationship and Mr. Tim Jones Managing Director
of Rolls-Royce India gave a presentation of the Rolls-Royce Company
worldwide and its operations in India. His theme was “India–UK
Defence Business Potential –– A Case Study”.
The seminar also included
separate workshops on Land Systems, Aerospace and Naval Systems.