Here are some more numbers that would make Indian companies associated with defence production salivate. India's defence electronics opportunity can total more than $70 billion over the next decade and a half, a white paper by consultancy firm Roland Berger and industry lobby body India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) states. The paper was presented today at Deftronics 2015, a conference of aerospace and defence stakeholders.
Defence electronics spending in the emerging nations of China, Russia and India are growing fast and by 2022, all the three countries could command a market share of five per cent each, from about two percent in 2012, the paper says - today, the United States and Europe hold the dominant market share of global defence electronics.
The opportunity for electronics in defence systems in India is spread across both standalone equipment (about $18.5 billion) as well as at a sub-system level. The chunkier pie is here - at a sub-system level, the total electronics opportunity is estimated to be over $58 billion in the next 12-15 years. The land systems opportunity for Indian companies is around projects such as the infantry combat vehicle, main battle tank, artillery and launcher programmes. The naval opportunity is around platform programmes of conventional submarines, frigates, aircraft carriers and support vehicles. In the Air Force, the market could open up around supplies to fighter and transport projects.
Of course, these are opportunities and there are significant challenges to be overcome before Indian companies can capitalise and make a killing. Some of these headwinds are global, says Rahul Gangal, Partner with Roland Berger Strategy Consultants. Across the world, product cycles are getting shorter, which implies higher research and development expenses as well as higher risk. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) typically share the risk with a trusted set of supply-chain partners . One is not sure if global corporations would be willing to change their current supply-chain to accommodate Indian companies catering to the Indian defence market, where programmes are both smaller and unpredictable. Gangal also says that the component supply ecosystem is getting congregated in regions such as China and it will be a herculean task to shift that since component manufacturing is largely about scale and investments.
Indian companies have other challenges too - the country does not have a common infrastructure for testing, prototyping and certification of defence systems - expensive affairs, particularly for small businesses.
What could make India attractive? Gangal suggests Indian companies develop system integration competence around commercially off the shelf technologies and products. While imported off the shelf products can be cost competitive, the value will be in integration.