Eyeing purchases of Rs.155 billion by the Indian armed forces over the next five years, a record 475 defence manufacturers - 273 of them from abroad - will showcase their varied portfolios at the DEFEXPO-2008 international exposition here Feb 16-19.
"A major highlight this year is the inclusion of 16 seminars to enable exhibitors to make technology and product specific presentations," said Lt. Gen. (retd.) S.S. Mehta, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that is jointly organising the biennial expo with the defence ministry.
"These presentations will be targeted at Indian defence establishments, R&D institutions, visiting official delegations, defence public sector undertakings, ordnance factories and Indian industry," Mehta added.
DEFEXPO, now in its fifth edition, "has been conceptualised to promote business activity in global land and naval systems", secretary (defence production) Pradeep Kumar told reporters here Tuesday.
He added: "It allows the international defence industry to promote and showcase their products and services and also gives domestic manufacturers an opportunity to do so.
"The Indian private sector is slowly acquiring strengths for defence manufacturing and the defence public sector units are beginning to leverage this."
"We are also looking at exports and while these are currently only at Rs.500 crore (Rs.5 billion), we hope to see these rise as the Indian industry acquires cutting edge technology from around the world," the official said.
Spread over eight halls and 32,000 sq m of open and covered space, DEFEXPO-2008 will see the launch of a staggering 91 new products ranging from radars, to communications systems, torpedoes, anti-mine vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and combat clothing.
And given the fast warming ties between New Delhi and Washington, it is not surprising that US companies should be making a beeline for the exposition. A total of 46 American companies, the largest from any country, are represented at the show.
They include giants like Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sikorsky besides the US defence department.
Rather inexplicably, China has decided to stay away from DEFEXPO-2008 while Pakistan was not invited.
"Yes, I can confirm that China has not accepted our invitation," secretary Kumar said.
"Pakistan was not invited," he added, without elaborating.
Telecom and IT companies will also be showcasing their products and services at the exposition, coinciding with which the fourth India Defence Industry Summit will also be held.
Indo-Asian News Service