Domestic Wings: Defence Minister A.K. Antony looks at a scale model Feb. 6 of the Rustom-1 UAV, developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation, during Defence Expo 2014. The exhibition hosted 624 companies from 30 countries. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI — Defexpo 2014, India’s biannual land, naval and homeland security exhibition, fell short of expectations since it saw no major teaming announcements between overseas and domestic companies.
Analysts expected a greater rush for such announcements in the quest to tap into India’s defense market, predicted at $150 billion over the next seven to 10 years.
The highlight of the exhibition was the display of homemade defense products, coinciding with the Indian Defence Ministry’s decision to prioritize indigenous companies during competitions.
As many as 624 companies from 30 countries participated in the exhibition. The major displays at Defexpo involved varieties of artillery programs. Eyeing the $6 billion artillery gun market, the star attraction was a display of homemade howitzers by domestic companies in tie-ups with overseas companies.
The overseas companies focused on a variety of air defense systems, which Indian defense forces need. On display was the upgraded homegrown Mark 2 model of the Arjun tank and the 155mm/45-caliber Dhanush gun, upgraded by state-owned Ordnance Factory Board on the chassis of Bofors 39-caliber guns bought in 1987.
Bharat Electronics displayed subsystems developed for use in various C4I systems catering to the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. These included computing elements in various forms, including wrist-wearable computers, handheld computers, tablets and rugged laptops.
The systems also included communications equipment, such as software-defined radios with different variants and advanced interoperability communication systems.
Bharat Electronics recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Sagem Défense Sécurité in France to explore cooperation in the production and supply of navigational sensors such as periscopes, inertial navigational systems and optronic masts to the Indian Navy for its various vessels under consideration.
The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation‘s (DRDO’s) only highlight was its network-centric warfare system developed for the Navy. DRDO also unveiled a 130mm self-propelled gun system, built based on the Arjun tank’s Mark 1 chassis.
BrahMos Aerospace, the joint venture between Russia and India, showcased a full-scale mockup of a new BrahMos-M missile, a smaller version of the supersonic missile. It will be installed on the Indian Air Force’s Su-30MKI fighter jet.
Hindustan Aeronautics displayed models of a multirole transport aircraft, light utility helicopter, light combat helicopter and the HTT-40 basic trainer, which has yet to receive developmental approval from the MoD. In addition, Hindustan Aeronautics displayed models of the multipurpose Dhruv advanced light helicopter, its intermediate trainer jet, the Su-30 fighter, the Dornier-228 and Hawk advanced trainer jet.
With an eye on the Indian Army’s $10 billion infantry combat vehicle market, domestic automobile maker Tata Motors displayed a new wheeled armored amphibious platform and light armored multipurpose vehicles.
The wheeled armored vehicle, developed with DRDO, has interchangeable snap-in modules. The vehicle is integrated with the Raytheon-Lockheed Martin Javelin anti-tank guided-missile system.
Larsen & Toubro, which has tied up with Nexter of France, unveiled a new version of its Caesar 155mm mounted gun system. The French company teamed up with Indian companies L&T and Ashok Leyland Defence to offer a system fitted to Ashok Leyland’s six-wheel Super Stallion chassis.
The domestic Kalyani group, which has tied up with Elbit Systems of Israel, showcased its 130-155mm fully upgraded gun system.
Russia, with 37 companies, displayed more weapons than any other country. The highlight included the Tor M2KM air defense missile system, which can detect and process up to 48 targets. The Indian Army has a requirement of more than two regiments of short-range air defense systems.
The Russian ADS assault rifle, claimed to be the most modern in Russia, also was on display.
To equip its infantry troops, the 1.1 million-strong Indian Army is acquiring a variety of advanced arms and equipment at a cost of more than $3 billion. The project is in various stages of development and procurement, which includes buying assault rifles worth $800 million, for which a tender was floated in November 2011.
BAE Systems displayed its light 155mm/39-caliber towed howitzer and fully automated 127mm/54-caliber naval gun system. India requires light howitzers for its recently announced Mountain Corps to be deployed along the border with China, and the Army has decided to purchase 145 light howitzers from BAE’s US subsidiary.
Argon Electronics of the UK showcased its PlumeSIM and other simulators. Argon recently received a major order from India for a broad-range suite of chemical detectors.
Sagem of France displayed the Patroller tactical unmanned aerial system. Meant to tap the Indian homeland security market, the drone can carry out surveillance missions in restricted areas.
MBDA displayed its Mistral very-short-range air defense system, which is being offered to the Indian Army to replace its Russian-made Igla air defense system. MBDA also showcased the entire family of Exocet missiles, which included the surface, submarine and air-launched variants. The Exocet SM39 has been ordered for India’s Scorpene submarines.
Israel was represented by 21 companies, the third largest contingent after Russia and France.
Israel Aerospace Industries presented a wide range of strategic systems, including mission aircraft, a variety of UAVs, advanced radar systems, air defense systems and command-and-control gear for various theaters, including cyber.
Rafael displayed the Spike anti-tank guided munition, which is being considered for purchase by the Indian Army.
The Iron Dome short-range artillery system was also on display. In addition, the company displayed the Python-5, Derby and MiC4AD air defense missiles.
Boeing, which has won Indian military tenders for attack and utility helicopters, displayed models of its C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifter and P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, both of which India has contracted to purchase.
It also displayed the Apache AH-64E attack helicopter, CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopter, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and UAVs such as the ScanEagle.
For the first time, Rockwell Collins displayed its next-generation Talon RT-8400 international software-defined radio, a patrol persistent surveillance system and its HeliSure family of products.
A Chinese delegation invited to the show did not show up. ■