$5 billion export target by 2025: Modi govt’s push to turn India into world’s defence manufacturing hub | India News
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday spelled out India’s ambitions to become a major defence hub as global firms flocked to the mega Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru for a slice of the nation’s massive import budget.
India is looking to sign defence deals worth Rs 750 billion ($9 billion) at the biennial five-day Aero India event, its biggest ever, as its airlines try to complete jetliner purchases to meet civilian demand and press global aircraft manufacturers to produce more locally, mainly through partnerships.
The resolve to build India as a defence exporter comes at a time when the country continues to be one of the biggest weapons importers in the world.
New Delhi’s export ambitions are a sign of its growing clout as it uses the leverage of huge imports to attract investment in its domestic industry.
Past Indian exports include Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Dhruv helicopters to the Philippines, Mauritius and Ecuador and Russia-India venture BrahMos Aerospace’s supersonic cruise missiles to the Philippines. HAL has also offered its Tejas light fighter jet for sale to Malaysia.
At the curtain raiser event for the show, defence minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that the government is committed to making India self-reliant in the defence sector and has set a target of achieving defence exports worth Rs 25,000 crore by 2024.
PM Modi‘s call to private sector
Speaking at the aero show on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeated his government’s promise of boosting defence exports by more than 200% over the next three years.
“From about $1.5 billion in 2021-21, India targets to export $5 billion worth of military hardware by 2025,” PM Modi said.
India has changed its laws to facilitate investments in the defence sector, making it a “reliable defence partner,” he added.
“Today, India is not just a market for defence companies, it is also a potential defence partner,” he said. “I call on India’s private sector to invest more and more in the country’s defence sector.”
The Prime Minister said that India has rejuvenated its defence sector in the last 8-9 years despite market complications.
“You also know that defence is such an area in which technology, market and business are considered the most complicated. Despite this, India has rejuvenated its defence sector within the last 8-9 years. Therefore, we consider this to be just a start,” he said.
The $5 billion target comes at a time when the Modi government is pushing an ambitious programme of turning the nation into a defence manufacturing hub.
The country has banned imports of over 300 defence systems and sub-systems in order to boost local players.
However, efforts at self-reliance have been slow to take off.
According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India ranks 4th among 12 Indo-Pacific nations in self-reliant arms production capabilities.
Meanwhile, India’s dependence on foreign arms continues to be the highest in the group.
Between 2017 and 2021, India accounted for 11% of all global arms purchases making it the largest importer, according to SIPRI.
Russia supplied India with around $13 billion of arms in the past five years, Russian state news agencies reported late on Sunday.
Not just Russia, suppliers in the European Union and the United States have been lobbying for a bigger share of the Indian market.
In fact, US has been trying hard to wean India away from Russia vis-a-vis arms imports amid a growing bonhomie between New Delhi and Washington.
Overall, India procured military hardware worth Rs 1.9 lakh crore (almost $24 billion) from countries like the US, Russia, France, Israel and Spain among others, in the last five years. The military hardware included helicopters, aircraft radars, rockets, guns, assault rifles, missiles and ammunition.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made it imperative for India to further diversify its supply base, amid fears of possible Russian supply disruption and Western pressure on New Delhi to limit ties with Moscow.
Aero Show 2023
The five-day aerospace exhibition, considered the largest in Asia, is being participated by over 700 Indian and foreign defence companies besides delegates from around 100 countries which included several defence ministers as well.
At the event, PM Modi described Aero India as an example of India’s growing potential.
Officials had said around 250 business-to-business agreements are expected to be firmed up at the Aero India which is estimated to unlock investment to the tune of around Rs 75,000 crore.
Aero India 2023: Top 10 Aircraft participates in Bengaluru show
<p>Aero India is India’s largest air show and aerospace exhibition, held biennially in Bengaluru. The event showcases the latest advancements in aviation technology and aerospace equipment, as well as military aircraft and defence systems.</p>
A plethora of aircraft of the Indian Air Force displayed their aerial prowess in an air show at the event.
The theme of Aero India is ‘the runway to a billion opportunities’ and is aimed at projecting India’s growth and capabilities in the defence and aerospace sector.
The air show aims to promote exports of indigenous air platforms such as Tejas, Dhruv, HTT-40 training aircraft, Dornier light utility helicopter and the light combat helicopter.
India also wants smaller domestic companies and start-ups to make parts for large defence products globally as well as to attract foreign investment for joint product development and production.
(With inputs from agencies)
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