Aero India 2015: WHAT TO EXPECT
In what would be Asia’s biggest aerospace trade event this year,
India is scheduled to host the Aero India 2015 air show from 18 – 22
February. As MPI prepares to cover the air show live from Bangalore, the Editor provides a highlight of what to expect from the show, and some of the areas that MPI will be following closely.
Impact of the “Make in India” campaign
The new Narendra Modi government has launched the “Make in India” campaign and has prioritised the need for improving the domestic defence base. Needless to say, it has already become the buzzword for Aero India and this is evident from a mere glimpse at the Aero India registration page. Although several international companies are gearing up for a big presence at the air show, there is a high level of uncertainty as to what the “Make in India” campaign would affect them.
One of the first possibilities is that foreign companies may notice a higher turnout of Indian industry majors at the air show, with big entry plans into the aerospace manufacturing sector. While the focus for international companies is on export, some effort may also have to be put into focussing on collaborations with the industry, establishing joint ventures, and so on.
Changes to procurement regulations
India is expected to launch changes to its regulations that guide defence procurement in order to make it “simpler”; and also to legalise the use of agents in the process. Although an exact date has not been set for the launch, it was previously announced that it would be introduced before March 2015.
If the previous Aero India shows are any precedent, then it is likely that the changes to the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) may be announced during the inaugural ceremony of Aero India
2015 on 18 February. For example, the government used the previous iteration of the air show, in 2013, to announce the new DPP-2013 in front of the large international audience gathered at the show.
As things stand, any changes to the DPP would be made with a view to increase focus on the government’s commitment to “Make in India”. Without disclosing too much information, the Minister for
Defence Manohar Parrikar cautiously informed the media that his ministry will launch a brand new “simplified and time-bound” DPP that will help smoothen the process. In addition, news reports in late 2014 announced that India is going to legalise the use of agents in the procurement cycle to make it easier for foreign suppliers to be involved in the market.
As the troubled saga of the Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) continues in India, it is hoped that Aero India would give more details about the country’s current stance on the procurement.
As things stand, Dassault Rafale was selected in the competition in 2012 with no contract having materialised to date. During the latter half of 2014, analysts and journalists strongly speculated if the deal may not even end up being cancelled. Contenders such as the Eurofighter Typhoon are making renewed efforts to persuade India to reconsider its selection. It now appears that India may be considering an electronic warfare (EW) upgrade to Sukhoi fighters as an alternative to the MMRCA programme. On January 2015, Indian Defence Minister Parrikar was cited by the local media as saying, “upgrading Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters with electronic warfare (EW) suites would make the platform a viable alternative to buying 126 Dassault Rafale for the stalled MMRCA requirement”.
It appears that the deal with Dassault has hit turbulence mainly due to two factors- agreement on liabilities, and cost escalation. Under the terms of the 2007 MMRCA tender, Dassault has to take full responsibility for the quality control, timelines, and liquidity damages for the HAL-built Rafales. Dassault has opposed these stipulations on the grounds that it has no executive control over India’s HAL.
Potential export of Tejas aircraft
India plans to use the air show to market its indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. “Tejas will be on flying and static display at the Aero India Show here from Feb 18-22 to solicit foreign buyers, as we have started producing them (fighters) for the Indian Air Force (IAF),” state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) outgoing chairman RK Tyagi told the Indian media in January.
It was in 2014 that the HAL confirmed publicly that it was ready to export the Tejas aircraft which is a fighter aircraft that is part of the first series production for induction into the IAF fleet. India believes that the low production costs associated with the Tejas may make it an attractive option for emerging markets. This rationale is driven by the success of the Dhruv aircraft in the Ecuadorian market in
It remains to be seen if Tejas manages to get interest from the market. Despite these intentions, there are certain issues associated with the Tejas production cycle in India. One of the main issues is the production delays with HAL-made aircraft. It remains to be seen how these concerns are addressed by the Indian government.
Airbus plans major presence
Airbus Group intends to highlight its strong footprint in India and commitment to the ‘Make in India’ campaign, according to a press release.
“We are enthusiastic about the ‘Make in India’ campaign and are ready to leverage our existing local partnerships and invest in new ones. Aero India offers the perfect setting to discuss our plans to make in India with various stakeholders,” said Yves Guillaume,
India president of Airbus Group.
As part of this commitment, two Made-in-India products – High
Accuracy Defence Air Pressure Measurement System and
Structurally Integrated Antenna – will be displayed in the show. Both these products have been developed at the Airbus Defence and Space engineering centre in Bengaluru.
Roll-Royce marketing “innovative” propulsion systems Rolls-Royce has confirmed that it intends to tap into the aerospace opportunities in India. The potential market in India spans across the civilian as well as military sector. Roll-Royce will feature three examples of its innovative propulsion systems: the Adour, which powers the Hawk trainer; the Trent 700 from the Airbus A330 tanker aircraft; and the C-130J’s
Kishore Jayaraman, President, Rolls-Royce India and South Asia, was quoted in the media as saying, “We are delighted to be a part of
Aero India 2015.” Indian SMEs eyeing partnership opportunities Companies with any experience of dealing with the Indian market would be aware as to how important local partnerships are for bagging contracts, as well as to meet India’s offset requirement.
India’s increasing emphasis on the “Make in India” mantra only make it more important for international companies to seek partnerships or joint ventures.
Radel Advanced Technology, part of Bangalore-based Radel Group, an SME in the Aerospace and Defence has announced that it is looking at closing joint ventures during ‘Aero India 2015’ next month. Similarly, companies in India that specialise in areas such as product integration, electronics, software solutions, and training systems, are all looking for partnerships with the larger defence prime that seek work in the Indian market.
New entrants in the UAS market
India has been reported to be a growing market in the Unmanned
Aerial Systems (UAS) sector. The military, as well as the security sectors, have been driving the demand for UAS in the country.
A few Indian companies have also been engaged in the design and development of UAS. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is hoping to show off its new wheeled-UAV ‘Panchi’.
The website iHLS reported on 28 January that “India and the US are set to announce joint manufacturing of the Raven UAV in Bangalore from later this year, giving New Delhi a slice of the $3 billion [USD] order book for the world’s most advanced hand-launched drone”.
(Source: MPI – Hawk Information)