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UK Looks To Increasing Collaboration and Partnership Deals at Aero India By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

Being one of the most important opportunities for UK aerospace and defence companies to enhance business opportunities in India, UK Defence Procurement Minister, Harriet Baldwin will have over twenty UK based specialist aerospace and defence companies at her side at ‘Aero India’ this year, all of whom will be eager to open new doors and opportunities to do business or to extend already established collaboration with Indian based companies.

Including attendance from BAE Systems which will debut its Advanced Hawk jet trainer on which the company has collaborated with Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) together with Rolls-Royce, who will on their stand be showcasing a range of innovative products and services including the fifth generation Adour Mk 951 Advanced Military Fan Concept, Aero India really is a great opportunity for UK companies to show India what they have and of how willing and able they are to partner with Indian based companies as part of the ‘Make in India’ strategy of the Indian Government.

Amongst other UK companies known to be on the British stand at ‘Aero India’ this year Include Airborne International, Cobham, Cranfield University, Gardner Aerospace, Naysmyth Group, Renishaw, Strongfield Technologies, Techtest, Tritech, TVS, Ultra Electronics and UTC Aerospace. No doubt others will also be there on their own account.

Accompanying Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Defence to ‘Aero India’ will be Lt. General Mark Poffley, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff for Military Capability plus other senior MOD personnel together with members of International Trade Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO) exhibition team and its Regional Director for India, Sophie Lane.

Held alternatively with DefExpo every two years and organised by the India MOD, Defence Exhibition Organisation, ‘Aero India’ will open its doors for the eleventh year on Tuesday at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bengaluru (formally Bangalore) capital of India’s southern Karnataka state and centre of its high-tech industries.

‘Aero India’ should now be regarded as the premier aerospace/defence air show event on the national calendar and having grown rapidly in recent years it may well now be the second largest air show event in the world behind the bi-annual Paris Air Show.

Although ‘Aero India’ is an event that I have personally never yet attended, suffice to say that it will bring together 750 international exhibitors and delegations from around 109 countries across the world. This is a substantial increase on the last ‘Air India’ show held in 2015. Apart from being an important trade show event for the UK, ‘Air India’ is an important event for other countries such as the USA, France and Russia, all of whom will be putting in considerable effort.

Regarded not just as an event for commercial aerospace but also as a hub for defence business across Asia and with in-excess of 150,000 trade visitors expected to attend across the five days, the wide reach of this hugely important event has made Aero India one of the largest and most important podiums for international aerospace and defence companies to showcase their respective business expertise, ideas and competence.

The focus of effort by the UK delegation will no doubt centre on increased partnership, collaboration, investment and technology transfer. British companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce each has a long history of partnership with Indian based companies and Rolls-Royce two engineering centres in Bangalore partnered with QuEST Global  and TCS Worldwide. BAE Systems with has been BAE Systems, partnered with Mahindra, and which has recently been awarded a $542 million contract to supply the battle proven 155 mm ultra-lightweight M777 howitzer for the Indian Army.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ is writ large across the Aero India exhibition and show and anyone coming to India intent on purely exporting goods to India may well find themselves excluded. BAE Systems which, partnered with Hindustan Aeronautics, has received orders to supply 140 Hawk Military Trainer Jets for the Indian Air Force and Navy since the first contract to supply was awarded in 2004, knows well that partnership and collaboration with Indian based companies is the way forward. India is determined to be as self-sufficient as it can be in the years ahead and to have established core business units to produce and enhance defence equipment. Those that fail to understand that message will be disappointed.

Interestingly, on becoming non-executive chair of BAE Systems India (Services) Private Limited two years ago, Deepak Parekh who is perhaps best known as being the highly respected Chair of the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC Ltd) stated that as a member of the BAE Systems India Board, he looked forward to working with the Company and helping to contribute positively to the “future development of world-class defence and security in India as the country accelerates its pace towards the goal of self –reliance in aerospace and defence”.

Not surprisingly, UK companies will be showcasing a great many innovative defence, aerospace and security technology ideas and developments at Aero India and those that have not already established collaborative arrangements, industrial partnerships and joint ventures will be looking to so do in the week ahead.

The visit by UK defence Procurement Minister, Harriet Baldwin builds on the Defence and International Security partnership (DISP) agreed in November 2015 between India and the UK and that is based around strengthening ties between the two nations to better combat global threats through the establishment of capability partnerships in strategic areas. On his visit to the UK in 2015 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that their respective governments would work together in support of ‘Make in India’ on indigenous defence projects and that they would encourage growing collaboration between their respective defence industries. In addition to direct defence related collaboration scope exists for the two countries to work much closer together in counter terrorism, cyber security and naval co-operation.

Mechanisms for increased bi-lateral government co-operation in defence included a requirement to increased strategic dialogue between the defence ministers of both countries and between Single Service Chiefs. In addition to the holding talks between steering groups in order to co-ordinate increased Joint Forces co-operation the UK and India agreed to intensify their biennial joint military exercises planned for 2017 in India and to strengthen training collaboration.

I mention the above because it shows that India and the UK have an already well established formula to increase intra-government collaboration and partnership. The bi-lateral formula established by the two governments is one that UK companies wishing to form partnership arrangements with Indian companies can take advantage of as they attempt to secure new arrangements to work together.

As UK Defence Minster Harriet Baldwin was recently reported to have said in a statement, “the UK and India have much to offer one another in defence: from manufacturing collaboration and simplified export controls, to military cooperation, training and research partnerships. As Britain steps up globally, we will work together with India to build knowledge, security and prosperity through a close industrial, military and economic partnership.”

When it comes to future international business, partnership and collaboration really is the way forward for UK business. That does not mean giving away IP of course but it does mean making more extensive and better use of it and of what we are able to design and develop.

CHW (London – 13th February 2017)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS

Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,

M: +44 7710 779785

Skype: chwheeldon




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