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PM Modi inaugurates DefExpo 2018, witnesses combat free fall demonstration by MARCOs
14 April 2018, 01:48 | Floyd Cook
Modi to formally inaugurate Defence Expo on Thursday
The purchase of bullet-proof jackets for soldiers had been delayed by red tape, but it has now been resolved, and an order had been placed, he said, adding that it would boost defence manufacturing in India.
Admitting to challenges for the defence sector, Modi said his government has increased FDI in the sector to 49 percent to promote "Make in India" for defence and that the government has also launched a Defence Excellence Scheme to promote India as the major military manufacturing hub.
India's mega defence exhibition - the DefExpo - began on Wednesday with the participation of major global and domestic military firms, which are eyeing billions of dollars of contract as part of the country's military modernisation programme.
Speaking at the event, PM Modi lauded the Defence Ministry and said this was his first ever visit to such a defence expo.
Formally inaugurating IDEX (Innovation for Defence Excellence) at the sidelines of DefExpo 2018 in Chennai on Thursday, Modi added that the country had seen the damage caused by laziness and incompetence.
"We are committed to establishing two Defence industrial corridors - one in Tamil Nadu and another in Uttar Pradesh. Dream! Dream! Dreams transform into thoughts, and thoughts result in action" - the Prime Minister said his dream was to develop the ecosystem to foster an environment of new and creative entrepreneurship in the defence manufacturing sector.
His almost half-an-hour speech laid down the government's roadmap to take India to its goal of being one of key makers and exporters of defence equipment.
The government last week began the process to procure around 110 fighter jets by issuing an RFI (Request for Information) or initial tender. "In less than four years, we have issued 794 more export permissions, for a total value of over $1.3 billion", he said.
Quoting former president APJ Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister said, Kalam asked us to dream, dream and dream.
India has purchased more than $15 billion worth of United States defence equipment in the past and companies there were cooperating closely with the Indian armed services to deploy these systems to enhance military capabilities and improve interoperability. "The corridors will become engines of economic development & growth of defence industrial base", he said. Under the scheme, the government would set up defence innovation hubs throughout the country to provide necessary incubation and infrastructure support to the start-ups in the defence sector.
Modi's speech, however, did not touch upon any areas other than defence, manufacturing and Make in India.
U.S. defence majors Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Swedish aircraft-maker Saab, France's Dassault Aviation, the Eurofighter consortium and Russian jet builder United Aircraft Corporation are expected to bid for the fighter project that could be worth more than $15 billion.
Mr. Modi said the defence procurement procedure has been revised with many specific provisions for stimulating growth of domestic defence industry.
Highlighting the role played by the BJP government in reviving the defence sector, Modi said that on May 2014, defence export permissions granted stood at 118, for a total value of $577 million. "They are doing it, they are buying India-made products, but that may not be as much as you or me want", she said.
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