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Low-key Aero India 2017 witnessed limited agreements

February 17, 2017 (Photo Credit: Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images)
BANGALORE, India — The aerospace and defense exhibition Aero India 2017 was low-key in terms of business activities, with no major deals signed or Ministry of Defence announcements on the Strategic Partners policy, which has the potential to boost business for the domestic private sector.

Friday was the expo's final business day, but it remains open Feb. 18 for the general public.

More than 72 fighter aircraft participated at the event in the wake of the runup for a production tender for single-engine fighters for the Indian Air Force; however, the MoD did not announce introduce a road map for the tender.

Mostly only joint venture agreements and memorandums of understanding were announced between overseas defense companies and Indian entities. Foreign companies partner with domestic businesses to stay connected to the Indian market, which will see all future big-ticket tenders awarded to domestic companies under a much-awaited MoD policy.

A top MoD official said Aero India 2017 was productive, as it provided a platform to foreign original equipment manufacturers to forge partnerships with domestic defense companies to move forward Make in India defense initiatives.


Only one business deal was finalized at Aero India 2017: Saab subsidiary Saab Grintek Defence and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's Avionics Division signed a contract valued at $8.5 million to deliver transfer of technology between South Africa and India. The deal will see to the transfer of technology for in-country maintenance of Saab's Integrated Defensive Aids Suite system, or IDAS, in India.

IDAS will serve as the electronic warfare self-protection system for the Indian Air Force and Army Aviation Corps' variants of Dhruv advanced light helicopters, which HAL manufactures.

Israel Aerospace Industries and Kalyani Strategic Systems Limited, the defense arm of India's Kalyani Group, signed a memorandum of understanding to incorporate a joint venture company in India.

Under the agreement, IAI and KSSL will aim to expand their presence in the Indian defense market and build, market and manufacture specific air defense systems and lightweight special purpose munitions.

The memorandum was signed at the show by IAI President and CEO Joseph Weiss and Kalyani Group Chairman Baba Kalyani.

"The JVC will integrate strategic state-of-the-art defense systems for the Indian MoD in accordance with the Indian government's Make in India policy," Weiss said.

IAI also signed a cooperation agreement with Dynamatic Technologies Limited for the production, assembly and support of mini UAVs in India. The agreement encompasses the transfer of technology and production capabilities from IAI to Dynamatic Technologies to enable the indigenous capability for mini UAV systems for Indian end users.

Raytheon of the United States signed a memorandum of understanding with Tata Advanced Systems Limited to engage in co-production of Stinger air defense missile components. As part of the new pact, Tata could produce components of the Stinger missile in India, the company said in a release. Stinger has both surface-to-air and air-to-air applications against a variety of airborne targets.

Raytheon said India was one of three international customers to order Stinger missiles, which will be armed on AH-64 Apache helicopters soon to enter service with the Indian Air Force.

Thales of France and state-owned defense giant Bharat Dynamics Limited signed an agreement to assess opportunities for transfer of technology of the flagship StarStreak missile capability to India. Under the memorandum of understanding, Thales and Bharat Dynamics will seek to jointly offer a Make in India solution to help grow international demand for StarStreak.

Private sector Larsen & Toubro and MBDA of France signed an agreement to set up a joint venture to develop and supply missile systems to meet the growing requirements of the Indian armed forces. The joint venture company, named L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd, is expected to be incorporated in the first half of 2017 after necessary approvals, according to Jayant Patil, the head of L&T's defense business. L&T will own 51 percent of the equity whereas MBDA will own 49 percent.

Domestic private defense company Mahindra Aerostructures, a subsidiary of Mahindra Group, announced a partnership with French firm Segnere SAS to collaborate on airframe manufacturing opportunities and expand capabilities for the global aerospace market.

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