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Aero India 2023

India does not want to remain 'assembly workshop' for military platforms: Rajnath to CEOs of defence majors

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a group photo during CEOs Round Table at the Aero India 2023, in Bengaluru, Monday, Feb. 13, 2023. A PTI Photo

BENGALURU (PTI):  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has conveyed to the top honchos of Indian and global aerospace majors that India does not want to remain an "assembly workshop" for military platforms and asserted that it now aims to produce cutting-edge defence hardware.

Singh made the remarks on Monday while addressing a "CEOs' Roundtable" at the 14th edition of Aero India at the Yelahanka Air Force station complex on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

In his address, the defence minister called upon the industry leaders to support India's aspirations to become a leading manufacturer of key military platforms and equipment using critical technologies, in sync with the country's policy of attaining self-reliance in defence production.

Around 70 top executives of various companies attended the roundtable.

Assuring the industry leaders of all necessary support for doing business in India, Singh said the government-industry partnership is based on equality and mutual trust.

He stressed that indigenisation is the mantra for today's India, unlike in the past when import was the default option. He also extended the government's full support towards removing "obstacles" and facilitating businesses.

The five-day Aero India, considered to be Asia's biggest aerospace event, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in the day.

In his address, Modi said India has rejuvenated its defence production in the last eight-nine years and will now move fast to join the world's largest defence-manufacturing countries, riding on favourable economic policies.

At the roundtable, Singh said India does not want to remain just an "assembly workshop" and is looking to engage with friendly countries in defence and security, based on sharing expertise and capabilities, in accordance with the prime minister's "Make in India, Make for the World" vision.

He told the industry leaders that the government is open to new ideas and committed to fully harnessing the energy, entrepreneurial spirit and capabilities of the private sector partners in the area of defence.

The defence ministry said many foreign OEMs (original equipment makers), including Safran, Boeing, Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney and Thales, made announcements regarding their plans for collaborations and investments in India's defence and aerospace sector.

It said General Atomics and Bharat Forge announced to deepen their collaboration in aircraft components and parts.

The ministry said Hensoldt also announced the design, transfer of technology and IPR transfer of an obstacle avoidance system for Indian helicopters and co-development of advanced multi sensor electro-optics airborne gimbals for the Indian and the world market.

Singh voiced the government's resolve of nurturing a vibrant and world-class defence manufacturing industry, terming it a key driver of the Indian economy.

He enumerated a number of far-reaching reforms undertaken by the Ministry of Defence to create a business-friendly climate in the country.

These include setting up defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, simplification of industrial licensing processes, a hike in the cap on foreign direct investment in defence, opening government trial-and-testing facilities for the private sector and an increase in the capital outlay for defence in the Union Budget 2023-24.

Singh also referred to the launch of the "Technology Development Fund" and "Innovations for Defence Excellence" to promote research and development.

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