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The new alliances DefExpo 2008 facilitated will establish indigenous capabilities in the defence sector in the years to come, reports Rahul Singh.

business Updated: Feb 20, 2008 02:34 IST
Rahul Singh

DefExpo 2008, the fifth international land and naval systems exhibition, ended on Tuesday but the new alliances it facilitated will establish indigenous capabilities in the defence sector in the years to come. The partnerships forged sufficiently demonstrate that global biggies want to combine their competencies with the Indian industry to get a grip on the defence market and make their products more competitive.

Be it the Israelis, Americans or Europeans, the Tata Group was beeping on everyone’s radar. Ratan Tata inked MoUs with Israeli firms to manufacture missiles, UAVs, radars and electronic warfare systems. He told the Hindustan Times that his group was extremely enthusiastic about expanding its defence business.

He said, “The coming together of the Tata Group and Israeli Aerospace Industries will positively impact the growth of Indian defence industry and complement the efforts of our defence labs, Ordnance Factory Board and defence public sector undertakings.” Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and Tata Advanced Systems have partnered to manufacture S-92 helicopter cabins in India.

Spreading its wings further in the aerospace segment, the Tatas also announced an MoU with Thales to offer optronics
solutions for the air force’s $10 billion MRCA (multi-role combat aircraft) programme. Francois Hubert-Habart, sales director for Asia, Thales, said, “It will allow the two companies to combine their know-how to offer solutions in the airborne optronics domain.”

Aside from the multi-billion dollar tie-ups involving the Tatas, Mahindra Defence Systems is targeting an alliance with Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS), part of the $20 billion Finmeccanica Group of Italy, to synergise competencies in the field of underwater weapon systems.

DCNS, an European naval defence systems firm, announced it would be setting up an Indian subsidiary oriented towards design, service to naval shipyards and sourcing of components and materials in the Indian industry. DCNS Group’s chief operating officer Bernard Planchais said, “The opening of DCNS India is part of a strategy aimed to increase our industrial activity in the country.” Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) inked MoUs with Canadian and British firms for producing armoured patrol vehicles and dry support bridges.

Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of state for Defence Production, said on Tuesday, “The event has helped India evaluate its position vis-à-vis other countries in the field of technology. We have found out how far we have climbed up the ladder to be at par with others.” Lieutenant General SS Mehta (retd), director general, CII, said DefExpo was more of a technology show than defence exposition.