Indian companies outshine foreign vendors at Aero India


Indian companies are outshining foreign vendors at India’s biggest air show with a slew of announcements and large display areas, but when it comes to big domestic orders, the wait seems to be getting longer.

While the government’s showcase ‘Strategic Partnership’ model is limping along – the selection process of only one of the four programmes kicked off last month when tenders were sent for the Naval Utility Helicopter requirement – Indian companies have been working mostly on export orders that have been trickling in.

Several announcements made at Aero India are related to Indian private sector companies bagging international orders – Dynamatic delivered parts for the Airbus 330 while Axiscades declared that it will be supplying full flight simulators to a Slovakian entity – the order book of large players remains dismal.

The Adani Group – the latest big company to enter the defence and aerospace sector – is showcasing its Hermes 900 UAV at the show, which is on till Sunday. The plane is being made at its Hyderabad facility but the customer is the Israeli armed forces and an undisclosed Southeast Asian country.

The large order it will pursue, however, is for more than 150 drones required by the Indian armed forces. But despite the requirement being discussed in a request for information in 2017, the selection process has not even started.

Similarly, Tata Aerospace and Defence has one of the largest stalls at the show – that displays the parts it makes for the Pilatus PC 12 plane as well as the cabin for the Sikorsky S 92 chopper.

But these systems too are only for export orders. The biggest ‘Make in India’ contract it is pursuing – to produce 56 aircraft in partnership with Airbus to replace the Avro transport fleet – has not progressed into an order yet, despite a fouryear wait.

The lack of progress in big Make in India projects has been a major pain point for the private sector which sees public sector units still getting the lion’s share on a non-competitive basis.


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