The DefExpo 2018, a biennial exhibition of weapons and military hardware, was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mahabalipuram today. The four-day exhibition, which is based on the theme - India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub, will see over 670 defence firms, including 154 foreign manufacturers, participating.
This is the first exhibition of this scale which is aimed at transforming India into a hub for manufacturing military equipment and achieve a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore in military goods and services by 2025.
Speaking at the event, PM Modi lauded the Defence Ministry and said this was his first ever visit to such a defence expo. "In May 2014, the total number of defence export permission granted stood at 118, for a total value of $577 million. In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over $1.3 billion," Modi said.
Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam, Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were also present at the inaugural event.
"The expo will showcase India's defence production capability for the first time. We are living in an interconnected world, therefore the strategic imperative for Make in India and Make for India, is stronger than before," the Prime Minister added.
He further said that the Centre would establish two Defence Industrial Corridors, one in Tamil Nadu and one in Uttar Pradesh, which will utilise defence manufacturing ecosystems in the regions and further develop it.
Tamil Nadu CM K. Palaniswami thanked PM Narendra Modi and the Defence Minister for choosing Tamil Nadu for the defence industrial corridor and said the state will contribute in all its capacity for the development of defence production in India.
Yesterday while addressing the media, Defence Minister Sitharaman said her intention to hold such an exhibition is to promote India-made defence products elsewhere. On asking about purchases of India-made defence products by the Indian armed forces, the minister said the forces make their own decisions in purchasing weapons.
"Decisions about purchasing weapons and such items are taken by the Army and Navy. They take a final call on those matter. They are doing it, they are buying India-made products, but that may not be as much as you or me want," she said.
On Day 1, a number of agreements were signed for 'Transfer of Technology. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Adani, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Electronics Limited, multinationals from United States, Europe, Korea signed MoUs and have agreed to transfer technologies to the Indian companies.
"About 1,500 companies are engaged with the ministry at the national level. As many as 712 technology transfer deals have been finalised. At the state level, 35 companies have signed Transfer of Technology for the supply of defence equipment," Sitharaman said.
Besides, Mahindra Group has signed a pact with Japanese company ShinMaywa Industries Limited to manufacture and assemble Amphibious Aircraft US-2. Mahindra will set up Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul units too.
Other major highlights about the event
Around 47 nations including Russia, US, UK, Afghanistan, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Portugal, Seychelles and Vietnam will showcase at the event.
Major international companies at the event are Lockheed Martin, Boeing (US), Saab (Sweden), Airbus, Rafale (France), Rosonboron Exports, United Shipbuilding (Russia), BAE Systems (UK), Sibat (Israel), Wartsila (Finland) and Rhode and Schwarz (Germany).
Tejas fighter jets, advanced towed artillery gun systems (ATAGS) designed by the DRDO Arjun Mark 2 tank and Dhanush artillery guns are at display in the exhibition.
Besides, DRDO's Nirbhay missile system with launcher, autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (AUGV), MBT Arjun Mk-I tank, Astra missile, low level transportable radar (LLTR) system, medium power radar (MPR) system and Varunastra are at display.