Striving for long to break into the lucrative arms export market, India has finally managed to get a toehold by bagging an order for sale of short-range battle field surveillance radar to Indonesia.
The sale order is eventful as the Indian company, which won the order, was in strong competition with some of the world's leading radar and electronic warfare equipment manufacturers like American Raytheon and European consortium Thales.
The contract for the sale of man-portable battery- powered surveillance and acquisition radar has been won by public sector blue chip company Bharat Electronic Limited (BEL) for which it will be a maiden test in export. The company recently won the coveted 'Navaratna' title and in the last fiscal reported a turn over of Rs 4,240 crore logging a profit of Rs 724.55 crore.
Though the successive NDA and UPA governments have year in and year out set ambitious arms export targets, these have repeatedly fallen short of the mark. In 2003-04, the NDA government had set up a weapon export target of a modest Rs 1,000 crore and even that was never reached.
And the reasons appear not too hard to locate as so far Indian arms companies, all of which are state-owned, have only been allowed to peddle old arms.
The companies were exporting only weapons systems which were on the verge of being phased out, like old Vijayanta tanks, light artillery guns and other systems, by the country's armed forces.