DefExpo 2018 will, for the first time, project India’s Defence manufacturing capabilities to the world. This is reflected in the tagline for the Expo, which is ‘India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub’. DefExpo 2018 branded India as a defence exporter of several defence systems and components for all three Services – Army, Navy and Air Force. While showcasing strengths of India’s substantial public sector, it also uncovered India’s growing private industry and spreading MSME base for components and sub-systems.
DefExpo 2018 brandished Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s various flying platforms including domestically designed and manufactured fourth-generation Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – Tejas; Advanced Light Helicopter – Dhruv which have both civil as well as combat variants; Light Combat Helicopter for which IOC was received recently; Dornier civilian aircraft for which DGCA clearance was received and which is likely to be inducted for regional connectivity purposes. Apart from HAL’s platforms, the Expo also promoted domestic private industry and aero-components business.
As the DefExpo is being held on sea-shore, along the East Coast road enroute Chennai to Mahabalipuram, it provided Indian Navy to brandish its domestic design and manufacturing capabilities. India proudly presented its Naval designing capabilities in shipbuilding. India is one of the few countries of the world with capabilities to design a naval vessel from scratch to finish. India also physically showcased, along the shoreline several frigates, corvettes and other ships. The exhibition also unveiled India’s capabilities in manufacturing Scorpene class submarine. Naval shipyards in public sector including Mazagon Docks, GRSE, Goa Shipyards, Hindustan Shipyard and private shipyards brought to view their capabilities in manufacturing and servicing ships. Kattupalli shipyard of L&T is only 40 km from Chennai and visitors to DefExpo easily visited the same. It is relevant to mention that Indian shipbuilding is marked with growing indigenisation levels and ‘float’ of ships built in India have nearly 90% indigenous components. There is growing demand for Indian built vessels from many countries in South Asia, ASEAN and Africa and DefExpo was a perfect stage to unfold the might of India’s shipbuilding capabilities.
As regards land systems, India unveiled its 155mm Advanced Towed Artillery Gun (ATAG) in DefExpo. This is the first time that India has its own ATAG which has been designed and developed by DRDO in partnership with Kalyani Group, Tata Power and OFBs. India also proposed to showcase its tank making capabilities, including MBT Arjun, T90 and T-72, Bridge Laying Tanks (BLTs) with a span of over 70 feet among others. India also be showcased 155mm artillery gun ‘Dhanush’. DefExpo also provided an opportunity to showcase India’s plans for putting India on the global map of small arms manufacturing with its decision to manufacture about 7.5 lakh Assault Rifles, 3.5 lakh Carbines and about 40,000 LMGs.
India also showcased its Missile and Rocket manufacturing capabilities, including BrahMos missiles available for all kind of attacks including surface-to-air, air-to-air and sea-to-air. Further Akash Missile system was a major attraction at DefExpo. Pinaka rockets was also highlighted during the show.
Given the focus on highlighting India as an emerging defence production hub, DefExpo 2018 has earmarked at least half the space for domestic exhibitors. This make DefExpo 2018 the biggest ever opportunity to show their capabilities and integrate with the global supply chain of defence manufacturing. Emphasis is being given to invite delegations from countries which have shown keen interest in India’s weapon systems and platforms so that DefExpo 2018 provides a boost to overall defence manufacturing capabilities in the country and to its export potential.