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DefExpo 2018: Gates open, all eyes on home front

Foreign officials inspect stalls showcasing Indian expertise at DefExpo; desi firms hunt for deals with overseas manufacturers.

Published: 12th April 2018 04:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2018 06:01 AM   |  A+A-

The DefExpo in Chennai, which opened on Wednesday, has attracted people from various countries. | PTI

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Nguyen Dinh Chen, a Senior Colonel from Vietnam Army, is awestruck as he goes through various stalls set up at the DefExpo 2018 on the East Coast Road at Tiruvidanthai near here. The Colonel, who is here to procure arms for his country, says he has been regularly visiting the DefExpo since its inception and is amazed at the way how each is way better than the earlier one.Being shy of media, the Colonel while refusing to reveal what they are looking for, says the Vietnamese government will decide once the committee comes out with recommendations.Interestingly, it is not Vietnam alone. A delegation from United Arab Emirates is also present scouting for arms. 

The DefExpo in Chennai, which opened on Wednesday, has attracted people from various countries as India is showcasing the strength of its micro, small and medium enterprises.Seventy five per cent of stalls belong to Indian companies, says Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who parried questions as to why there is less participation of foreign companies. The strength of the DefExpo is the focus on ‘Make in India’. Many foreign companies have set up stalls and are parroting the Prime Minister’s mantra.

However, foreign firms like Boeing and Lockheed Martin vying for contracts for aircraft are to set up plants in India. Similarly, Swedish manufacturer Saab and Isreali firm Elbit have tied up with Adani Group, which is making its foray into defence. Cyient, a provider for engineering design, has tied up with Bluebird Aero systems to offer unmanned aerial vehicle systems to Indian defence and industry at the DefExpo. 

However, all eyes are on the new Defence Production Policy 2018, which could be unveiled soon. “The government had already released a draft policy and more than 100 suggestions have been received till now from the public,” the minister said. Interestingly, the focus of DefExpo is also on the defence corridor to be set up in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchy, Salem and Hosur. A sizeable number of firms from Tamil Nadu has also set up their wares in the expo.  “A consultant has been appointed to prepare a detailed project report,” said Sitharaman. On the issue of the armed forces hankering for imported armaments as opposed to homegrown ones, she said while the armed forces are free to choose their weapons, there has to be a “fine line” between procuring domestic and imported products.

Level playing field
In an effort to establish a level playing field for domestic arms makers in the private and public sectors, the the Strategic Partnership Policy has been amended. Defence public sector units are now eligible to enter into partnerships with foreign original equipment makers

In focus
75% of stalls belong to Indian companies
Also talked about is the new Defence Production Policy 2018, to be unveiled soon 
Many foreign firms keen to ink deals with Indian companies



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