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PM Narendra Modi inaugurated 'Aero India 2023' at the Yelahanka Air Force station complex on the outskirts of Bengaluru on February 13.
India rejuvenated its defence production in the last eight-nine years and will now move fast to join the world's largest defence manufacturing nations riding on favorable economic policies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, February 13. After inaugurating 'Aero India 2023' at the Yelahanka Air Force station complex on the outskirts of Bengaluru, Modi said the event, which was earlier considered just a window to "sell to India", is showcasing the nation's strength as a potential defence partner and noted that India is now exporting defence equipment to 75 countries.
Listing various reforms and achievements in the sector, Modi sought to project India as an attractive investment destination to produce military hardware and said it is looking at increasing defence exports from USD 1.5 billion to USD five billion by 2024-25. Two F-35A supersonic multirole aircraft of the US Air Force were among the major attractions at the event.
In the presence of top executives of several Indian and leading foreign defence majors, the prime minister said made-in-India platforms like Tejas Light Combat Aircraft and INS Vikrant are shining examples of India's true potential in the defence manufacturing sector. Modi said that Bengaluru's sky is "bearing testimony to the capabilities of New India". "This new height is the reality of New India, today India is touching new heights and transcending them too," he said.
Highlighting the Indian Air Force's commitment to self-reliance in defence, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari flew the indigenously-built Tejas light combat aircraft during an air show. The aircraft was one of the 10 Tejas that participated in the flypast witnessed by the prime minister.
The Chief of Indian Army General Manoj Pande flew in a Light Combat Helicopter. "The New India of the 21st century will neither miss any opportunity nor will it lack any effort. We are geared up. We are bringing a revolution in every sector on the path of reforms. The country, which was the biggest defence importer for decades, is now exporting defence equipment to 75 countries of the world," he said.
The prime minister said the country's defence exports have increased six times in the last five years and India exported more than 1.5 billion dollars worth of defence equipment in 2021-22. "You are also aware that defence is an area where technology, market and business are considered very complicated. "Despite this, India has transformed its defence sector within the last 8-9 years. However, we consider this to be just the beginning. We are aiming to increase this export figure from 1.5 billion to 5 billion dollars by 2024-25," he said. Modi said the efforts made during the period will act as a launch pad for India.
"India will now move fast to join the world's largest defence manufacturing countries. Both our private sector and investors are going to play an important role in this regard. Today I would call upon the private sector of India to invest in the country's defence sector as much as possible," he said. "Your every investment in the defence sector in India will create new avenues for your business in many countries of the world apart from India. There are new possibilities and opportunities ahead of you. The private sector of India should not let go of this opportunity," he added.
Over 700 Indian and foreign defence companies besides delegates from around 100 countries which included several defence ministers as well are participating in the five-day exhibition, considered the largest aerospace exhibition in Asia. Modi also described the 'Aero India' as an example of India's growing potential. "The deafening roar of Aero India also has the echo of India's 'Reform, Perform and Transform'. Today, the kind of decisive government, the kind of stable policies, the kind of clear intention in policies that India has, is unprecedented. Every investor should take full advantage of this supportive environment in India," he said.
The prime minister said where there is demand, expertise as well as experience, growth of the industry is natural. "This event of Aero India is an example of India's growing potential. The presence of around 100 countries of the world in Aero India demonstrates the world's growing faith in India. More than 700 exhibitors from India and abroad are participating in it. It has broken all the previous records," Modi said.
He said when a country moves forward with new thinking and approach, then its systems also start changing accordingly. "This event of Aero India also reflects the new approach of New India today. There was a time when it was considered to be mere a show or mere a window to 'sell to India'. This perception has also changed in the country in the last few years. Today Aero India is not just a show; it is also the strength of India," Modi said.
"Today it focuses not only on the scope of the Indian defence industry but on self-confidence as well. This is because today India is not just a market for the defence companies of the world. India today is also a potential defence partner," he noted. This partnership, he said, is also with those countries which are far ahead in the defence sector. India is emerging as an important partner for those countries which are looking for a reliable partner for their defence needs. Our technology is cost-effective as well as credible for these countries. You will find 'best innovation' in India and 'honest intent' is visible before you," he said.
The prime minister said his government has taken several steps to create an environment conducive to global investment. "The rules for approving Foreign Direct Investment in the defence sector in India have been simplified. Now FDI in many sectors has been approved through the automatic route," he said.
Officials said around 250 business-to-business agreements are expected to be firmed up at Aero India which is estimated to unlock investment to the tune of around Rs 75,000 crore. They said Aero India would promote the export of indigenous air platforms like Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, HTT-40, Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
A plethora of aircraft of the Indian Air Force displayed their aerial prowess in an air show at the event. The theme of Aero India is 'the runway to a billion opportunities' and is aimed at projecting India's growth and capabilities in the defence and aerospace sector. The focus of the event is to showcase indigenous equipment and technologies and forging partnerships with foreign companies, in line with the 'Make in India, Make for the World' vision of the government, officials said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that Aero India will act as a catalyst in further growth of the aerospace sector in India. Singh will host a Defence Ministers' conclave on Tuesday on the theme 'Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defence (SPEED). The major exhibitors at Aero India include Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Israel Aerospace Industry, BrahMos Aerospace, Army Aviation, HC Robotics, SAAB, Safran, Rolls Royce, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and BEML Limited.
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