Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday showcased India as an attractive destination for investment in the defence manufacturing sector, and said it will move towards becoming one of the leading exporters of military hardware globally.
Modi made the comments in his address after inaugurating the 14th edition of Aero India at the Yalahanka Air Force station complex on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
The five-day exhibition is being participated by over 700 defence companies and delegates from 98 countries, officials said.
This edition of Aero India is showcasing the country as an emerging hub for manufacturing of military aircraft, helicopters, military equipment and new-age avionics.
They 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.
"New India" of 21st century will neither miss any opportunity nor will there be any shortage in its hard work, Modi said.
The prime minister said India today is not only a market but also a potential defence partner for so many countries, adding the nation is moving towards becoming one of the leading exporters of military hardware globally.
"Today, Aero India is not only a show, but it is also reflection of India's self confidence and capabilities," he said in the presence of top executives of various global defence majors and delegates from a significant number of countries.
He said Aero India' reflects India's new strength and aspirations.
Today, our successes are a proof of India's potential, he said, noting that the indigenously developed Tejas aircraft is an example of it.
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 'Make in India, Make for the World' vision of the government, officials said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said 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.
India rejuvenated defence production sector in 8-9 years: PM Modi
After inaugurating the 14th edition of Aero India at the Yelahanka Air Force station complex on the outskirts of Bengaluru, PM Modi said India has “rejuvenated” its defence production sector in the last eight-nine years and is looking at increasing the export of military hardware from USD 1.5 billion (one billion=Rs 100 crore) to USD five billion by 2024-25.
"The new India of the 21st century will neither miss any opportunity nor will it lack any effort. We are gearing up. We are bringing revolution in every sector on the path of reforms,” Modi said.
“The country, which was the biggest defence importer for decades, is now exporting defence equipment to 75 countries of the world,” he said.
Modi said India's defence exports have increased six times in the last five years and that it has crossed the figure of USD 1.5 billion in its exports.
"You also know that defence is such an area in which technology, market and business are considered the most complicated. Despite this, India has rejuvenated its defence sector within the last 8-9 years. Therefore, we consider this to be just a start,” Modi said.
“Our target is that by 2024-25, we will increase this export figure from 1.5 billion to 5 billion dollars,” he said.
Modi also described Aero India as an example of India's growing potential.
“The presence of around 100 countries of the world shows how much the world's faith in India has increased. More than 700 exhibitors from India and abroad are participating in it. It has broken all old records till now,” he said.
Modi said efforts made in the defence and aerospace sector, including at the Aero India, will act as a launch pad for India.
“Now from here India will move fast to join the world's largest defence manufacturing countries. And our private sector and investors are going to play an important role in this. Today I would call upon the private sector of India to invest in India's defence sector as much as possible,” Modi said.
“Your every investment in the defence sector in India, apart from India, will in a way create new avenues for your trade-business in many countries of the world,” he said.
The prime minister said the “deafening roar” of Aero India also has the echo of India's mantra of "Reform, Perform and Transform".
“Today, the kind of decisive government that India has, the kind of stable policies, the kind of clear intention in the policies, is unprecedented. Every investor should take full advantage of this supportive environment created in India,” he said.
“Where there is demand, capability and experience, the natural principle says that there the industry will grow day by day. I assure you that the process of strengthening the defence sector in India will move forward at an even faster pace,” Modi said.
He said when a country moves forward with new thinking and new approach, then its systems also start changing according to the new thinking.
“This event of Aero India also reflects the new approach of New India today. There was a time when it was considered to be just a show or just a window to 'Sell to India' in a way. In the past years, this perception has also changed in the country,” Modi said.
“Today Aero India is not just a show, it is also the strength of India. Today it also focuses on the scope of the Indian defence industry and also on self-confidence,” he said.
He further added: ”The sky of Bangalore is witnessing the potential of New India today. The sky of Bengaluru today is testifying that new heights are the reality of new India. Today, the country is touching new heights as well as crossing them.”
Officials said around 250 business-to-business agreements are expected to be firmed up at the Aero India which is estimated to unlock investment to the tune of around Rs 75,000 crore.
United States Air Force's F-35 makes debut at Aero India
The United States Air Force's (USAF) newest fifth-generation fighters – the stealthy, supersonic, multi-role F-35A Lightning II and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter – made debut at Aero India 2023.
After a journey from Hill Air Force Base in Utah, United States, the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team will impress crowds with ?a demo of its aerial capabilities, the US Consulate General Chennai said in a statement on Monday.
The F-35A Lightning II from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska will be on static display, it said.
The F-35's engine produces 43,000 pounds of thrust and consists of a three-stage fan, a six-stage compressor, an annular combustor, a single-stage high-pressure turbine, and a two-stage low-pressure turbine, the statement said.?
Major General Julian Cheater, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, said: "The F-35 represents the leading edge of U S fighter technology. Aero India is an ideal forum to showcase the most advanced, capable, lethal, and inter-operable weapons systems the U.S. has to offer."
This system and others are designed to penetrate and defeat advanced adversary air defences, the military officer added.
In addition to the F-35, an F-16 Fighting Falcon duo will conduct daily aerial demonstrations from February 13-17, showcasing the capability of one of USAF's leading fighter jets.
On static display, the F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet are multi-role fighters.
(With PTI inputs)