Make Then Sell – India’s ambitious defence export target comes up against long delays in product development

Source: The post is based on the article “Make Then Sell – India’s ambitious defence export target comes up against long delays in product development” published in The Times of India on 14th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Relevance: About India’s defence export.

News: AeroIndia 2023 which kicked off recently is not just being promoted as the biggest exhibition of India’s air power but also a significant platform to push Indian defence manufacturing to the next level.

Recently, the PM has announced an ambitious target of $5 billion annual defence exports by 2024-25.

What is the significance of AeroIndia for India’s defence export target?

Facilitate integration: Given the changing nature of warfare, the integration of air power with other arms of the military has become crucial. For instance, Asia is largely a seascape. So India’s ability to protect its interests will largely depend on the integration of naval and air assets.

Boost defence production and exports: AeroIndia will boost the government’s efforts towards self-reliance, a joint production of advanced technologies, and increase defence exports. All these have immediate implications for India’s strategic security.

What are the challenges with India’s defence export target?

India’s defence exports have increased from just Rs 1,520 crore in 2017 to a record Rs 14,000 crore in 2021-22. But still, there is significant headroom for growth.

India’s defence sector exports have two significant issues.

Firstly, India’s defence exports have largely comprised low to medium-tech items like personal protective equipment, offshore patrol vessels, spares for radars, coastal surveillance systems, helicopters, and electronic and engineering parts.

Secondly, exports are further held back by advanced platforms like LCA being produced at a very slow pace, with even domestic orders yet to be satisfied.

To overcome the India’s defence export challenges, a) India must require quicker production timelines, b) Different arms of the defence industry – private and government – need to work together.

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