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India has long been perceived as a net buyer and the world’s biggest ‘open’ market for military hardware. But that seems about to change. The current Aero India exhibition is witnessing a shift of priorities from buying to selling, marking an aggressive entry of Indian defence products in the global arena, according to At the same time, India signed several collaboration agreements with companies such as IAI within the framework of its “Make in India” initiative.

Indian-made military products such as LCA Tejas, DRDO-made AEW&Cs (Airborne Early Warning and Control), Astra missile, Pinaka Mk1 and Mk2 rockets, Rustom 1 & 2 UAV, warships and the Brahmos missile are getting prominence in talks with foreign delegations with an invisible “for sale” tag attached to them.

In addition, selling of Indian expertise in MRO of both aircraft and naval assets is being projected as a success. Reliance Defence’s announcement of a contract to overhaul of US naval ships, Su-30 pilot training and maintenance tie-ups with Vietnam and Malaysia are among the other successes being talked about.

India’s recent military exports include a 21 million contract for the Advanced Light Torpedo, Shyena with Vietnam while Sonars have been supplied to Myanmar, as S. Christopher, Chairman, DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) said during a press conference.

India’s DRDO is talking not only about exporting products but also technology and even exclusive manufacture for a foreign client. “Smaller AEW&Cs can be exported to other countries and can develop it exclusively for somebody,” Christopher said.

Akash, the medium range surface-to-air missile, developed by DRDO and manufactured by the public sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd can hit targets like aircraft, tanks, drones etc. The organisation had also got enquiries from other countries for different products.

Reliance Defence, an Indian private firm has recently signed an agreement with US Navy for repair and alteration services for warships.

India’s Intech DMLS Limited, a metal 3D printing provider and metal additive manufacturing establishment in aviation sector, has launched first indigenously developed jet engine series for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Remote Controlled (R/C) Aircraft.

Another Jet engine SJE-350 with a thrust of 350kgf, designed for strategic applications is currently being manufactured. The company also plans to expand into the Turbo Shaft/Fan category in the near future, it was reported.

Indian companies wanting to export military hardware are encountering a friendly bureaucracy. “Earlier it would take months to secure an export licence. But since the last year or so, it has been reduced to a few weeks”, said an executive of MKU, an exporter of helmets, bullet-proof jackets and armouring solutions.

Israel Aerospace Industries, Ltd. (IAI) has signed several collaborations with local companies in India on the basis of the “Make in India” initiative, during the current Aero India 2017 exhibition in Bangalore. According to IAI’s press releases, IAI and Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd. (KSSL), the defense arm of Kalyani Group, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to incorporate a Joint Venture Company (JVC) in India. IAI and KSSL are aiming to expand their presence in the Indian defense market and to build, market and manufacture specific Air Defense Systems and Ground to Ground & Ground to Sea Munitions.  

IAI, through its Golan Industries Division, and Taneja Aerospace & Aviation Ltd. (TAAL) of India, have signed an MOU to cooperate in the development, production, marketing and/or sale of civil and military aircraft crashworthy-seats.

Another agreement was signed between IAI and Dynamatic Technologies Limited (DTL) regarding the manufacture, assembly, maintenance and support for mini UAV projects in India.