Aero India is Not ‘Just a Show to Sell India’ or a Window to ‘Sell to India’: PM Modi

Aero India is not ‘just a show’ or a window to ‘sell to India’ but an opportunity to showcase the ‘scope of the Indian Defence industry and self-confidence of India Prime Minister Modi said while inaugurating the 14th edition of Asia’s biggest aero show - Aero India 2023 – at the Yelahanka Air Force Station, Bengaluru

By Neeraj Mahajan

Aero India, Aero India 2023
PM at the 14th edition of Aero India 2023, in Bengaluru on February 13, 2023.

Bangalore. “When a country moves forward with new thinking, new approach, then its systems also start changing according to the new thinking”, the Prime Minister said while inaugurating the 14th edition of Asia’s biggest aero show – Aero India 2023 – at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru. He also released a commemorative stamp on the occasion. According to him Aero India 2023 reflects the changing mindset of a ‘New India.’ 

The five-day event, on the theme ‘The runway to a billion opportunities’, will showcase India’s growth in aerospace and defence capabilities and display indigenous equipment/technologies. It will yet another opportunity for the Indian government and industry to forge an understanding with foreign companies, and make them participate in the ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ for a secure and prosperous India.

Reiterating the fact that Aero India is not ‘just a show’ or a window to ‘sell to India’ the Prime Minister said that it not only showcases the ‘scope of the Defence industry but also the self-confidence of India” and is a shining example of India’s growing capabilities. The presence of around 100 nations and more than 800 exhibitors at this event shows the trust that the entire world has in India.

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that Bengaluru sky is bearing testimony to the capabilities of New India. “This new height is the reality of New India, today India is touching new heights and transcending them too”, the Prime Minister said.

Later addressing a seminar organized by the Indian Air Force as part of Aero India 2023, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh emphasised the need for MRO services and called for joint efforts to develop India as a Maintenance, Repair Overhaul (MRO) hub. This would enhance the self-confidence and morale of our Defence forces as well as bolster National security, he said.

Also speaking in a different seminar titled ‘Indigenous Development of Futuristic Aerospace Technologies’ organised by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of 14th Aero India in Bengaluru, Rajnath Singh disclosed plans to manufacture indigenous aero-engines to provide a new fillip to the aerospace sector and achieve complete self-reliance.  

The Union Minister for Defence, Shri Rajnath Singh visits to the India Pavilion at Aero India 2023, in Bengaluru on February 13, 2023.

Emphasizing on the need to design & develop indigenous weapon systems using niche technologies like Artificial Intelligence, drones, stealth, hypersonic and quantum computing, he exuded confidence that DRDO will soon make quick progress and add to the list of its achievements which include ‘Prithvi’, ‘Akash’ and ‘Agni’ missiles.

“DRDO is no longer just a service provider for Defence R&D. It is also a facilitator for in-house industrial R&D, start-ups and private sector labs. There is a need to take advantage of this synergy,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri urged the DRDO to encourage start-ups and new R&D establishments to develop incremental innovations, minor sub-systems and their technologies through schemes like Technology Development Fund and Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX).

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh advised DRDO to set short-term, mid-term and long-term goals and work to build disruptive, cutting-edge or frontier technologies. “While we are progressing towards becoming one of the strongest countries in the world, we should have strong support of next level Armed Forces capable of facing any new challenge”, he said.

The Raksha Mantri described the scientists, engineers and technicians of DRDO as behind-the-scenes heroes who design, develop and manufacture weapons and technologies for the soldiers posted on the borders.

Glimpses of the 14th edition of Aero India 2023, in Bengaluru on February 13, 2023. PM present on the occasion.

Commending DRDOs achievements and the progress in Defence R&D in the country he said that DRDO is the flag-bearer of that vision and is continuously making headways in defence and aerospace sector through research and innovation to strengthen national security as well as design and develop equipment ranging from ammunition to guns, radar systems and missiles.

According to him some of DRDOs notable achievements include helicopters, and weapon systems like TAPAS, Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C), Medium Range Artillery Gun and radars. According to him the world is recognizing these achievements, with many countries have started importing Defence equipment from India and many others would do so in future.

According to him the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas as a game changer for the aerospace industry.

“A highly-capable aerial platform, LCA Tejas has a commendable record in flight safety which speaks volumes about its quality. Based on its success, the government has now approved LCA-Mk II for the Indian Air Force, while the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter is under consideration for the Indian Navy. We have also started moving forward in the path of design and manufacturing of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft in the form of 5th generation stealth aircraft. Whether it is water, land or sky, DRDO has always been at the forefront in strengthening the security infrastructure,” he said.

Highlighting the need for Aatmanirbharta in defence production and preparedness the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh –said that the IAF today needs indigenously developed weapon systems and avionics like – Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, Long Range Surface to Air Missiles, Akash Weapon System, LCA Tejas, and the Light Combat Helicopter ‘Prachand’.

According to the Defence Minister the IAF would soon be inducting 160 Prachand helicopters to reduce dependence on external sources. “While we should procure the best equipment and systems, our efforts should focus on developing our own equipment and systems to strengthen the Indian Defence sector”, he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Karnataka Pavilion

Highlighting the need for minimum 50% indigenous content in ‘Buy Indian- IDDM’ category to reduce the cost of Defence products and Aatmanirbharta. “The Life Cycle cost of high value Defence equipment, including service and maintenance, should be examined at the time of acquisition for a clear estimate of total expenditure on these products throughout their usable life, and to enable us to get better value for money”, he suggested.

The Defence Minister expressed confidence that the IAF would scale new heights not only in the sphere of security, but also in terms of self-reliance. He also commended the dedication of the IAF and its role as a first responder and relief activities during the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, saying that the efforts reflect India’s contribution to international relations and its duty towards the world.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also launched the Electronic Maintenance Management System (e-MMS) – one of the largest and technologically complex digital Enterprise Asset Management solutions being implemented all over the world.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari who was also present at the occasion underscored the importance of MSMEs and startups and urged the Defence and aerospace industry to assimilate new technologies as well as set up R&D centres and evolve viable business plans to enhance the deterrence, and future requirements of the Armed Forces.

According to him there is a huge potential for overhaul through part testing and outsourcing, and mentioned how IAF has successfully indigenised approximately 65,000 lives of spares.

Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan, Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Senior officials of the Ministry of Defence, DPSUs, DRDO, private industries (including foreign OEMs collaborating with Indian companies), IAF personnel and representatives of various Operational and Maintenance Directorates were also present on the occasion.

Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr Samir V Kamat handed over 12 technologies to Industries pertaining to Multi-Channel Laser DEW for 10kW/2km  range Hard kill system, Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESAR) – Uttam, Air Defence Fire Control Radar (ADFCR) – Atulya, NAYAN COMINT System, Unified Mission Computer, Software for outdoor Perimeter System (STOPS), LAND Inertial Navigation System (LAND-INS) for Land based Application, Ceramics Radomes Technology, Trawl Assembly for T-72/T-90 Tanks, Weapon Tracking System (WTS), Linear Thermal Detector and CBRN Water Purification System (WPS) Mk II. The ToT of these DRDO developed technologies will further strengthen the manufacturing eco-system in the country in the area of defence systems and platforms. So far, DRDO has entered into more than 1,500 ToT agreements with Indian Industries.

According to Defence analysts the DRDO has already played key role in transferring 12 latest Defence technologies developed by 10 DRDO laboratories to the industry by signing Licensing Agreement for Transfer of Technology (ToT) with 18 Indian Industries for several critical systems.

Rajnath Singh also met the CEOs of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) on the sidelines of Aero India and made it a point to enumerate India’s significant advantages like competitive land costs, skilled human capital, vibrant start-up ecosystem and huge domestic Defence market for the Global Defence industry. He described this as a win-win situation where Defence manufacturing companies from across the world can become a part of the Indian growth story.

PM at the 14th edition of Aero India 2023, in Bengaluru on February 13, 2023.

Accentuating the importance of the Defence sector in India Rajnath Singh said, “Defence production meets the twin goals of becoming self-reliant in a critical sector as well as generating jobs for our people.” He specifically made it a point to mention the incentives given by Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu state governments for investment in Defence Industrial Corridors, central government policies promoting FDI and defence manufacturing in India, the strong legal system protecting stakeholders’ interests and improvements in ease of doing business.

“There are opportunities to co-develop, co-produce, integrate and strengthen supply chains, from Joint Ventures, set up manufacturing in India and make for the world,” he said.

CEOs and senior management of General Atomics, Safran, Boeing, Embraer and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems participated in the interaction and gave their suggestions to facilitate Global investment in Indian Defence Manufacturing. Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh assured them of the government’s efforts to remove regulatory hurdles for private industry.

Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane, DG (Acquisition) Pankaj Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Defence Production T. Natarajan and other senior officials of the Ministry of Defence were also present.