Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Aero India 2011: All the world’s eyes are on Bangalore skies

Bangalore: Defence minister AK Antony’s lament on Monday about aviation and aerospace technologies from foreign countries not being top notch is expected to raise a storm at the eighth edition of the five-day Aero India which is scheduled to take off on Wednesday and run till February 13.
Aero India 2011 may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of hard decisions being taken; because, in the background of Antony’s statement is Indian Defence Review’s expert criticism which is more or less on the same lines and could have well formed the basis of the Union minister’s lament.
In the premier Indian defence journal, Maj Gen (Retd) Mrinal Suman — who retired from the Indian Army in 2003 and currently heads the defence technical assessment and advisory service of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) — prescribes that India, at present, urgently needs FDI in the defence and military aviation sector which is technology-centric with inherent flexibility. He has suggested that FDI could be 26% for low-tech products, while it could be 51%-74% for matured systems, and 75%-100% for cutting edge technologies.
Maj Gen Suman has decried the drastic fall in defence exports from ordnance factories from Rs41.07 crore in 2008-09 to a mere Rs12.28 crore in 2009-10, and has called it “a reflection of the nature of quality items being produced indigenously”.
He has called for significantly increasing FDI and private sector’s participation in defence production and manufacture instead of just restricting to doors and frames of aircraft bodies.
Suman also blasted India’s offset policy which envisages Indian companies to manufacture components worth 30% of any deal bagged by a foreign company as a seller to India. He termed it a “flawed policy” as it was not contributing to upgrading the indigenous technological base.
08/02/11 Nirad Mudur/Daily News & Analysis
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