Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hectic lobbying by arms producers

Sri Krishna
NEW DELHI, 16 FEB: With the defence budget for 2010-11 likely to be enhanced as indicated yesterday by the defence minister, Mr AK Antony, hectic lobbying has begun at the ongoing sixth DefExpo here by top arms producers of the world for a slice of the cake.
Russia (and the erstwhile Soviet Union) has been the biggest seller of arms to this country but it is now facing stiff competition from other nations.
A former defence ministry official observed that ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union and with Russia regularly hiking up price of defence equipment as in the case of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, arms manufacturers have been looking at making profits and this is one of the major reasons that other competitors are stepping in.
The four-day biennial event to showcase some of the latest defence equipment by leading manufacturers does not appear to have been impacted by the economic slowdown and recession that had affected many countries as the $11 billion that India spends every year on foreign military supplies is up for grabs.
The arms makers seem to have taken the hint from the minister of state for defence, Dr Pallam Raju, who said that India was “looking for partnerships and co-development arrangements and formation of joint venture in critical technical areas and the defence expo, which is a one-stop shop, is an ideal platform for doing business in defence”.
With the weaponry in the Indian armed forces being mostly of Russian make, the Russians are indeed lobbying hard for their aircraft for the 126 multi-role medium range combat aircraft (MMRCA) that India is planning to purchase as part of its modernisation drive.
All the major bidders for the 126 MMRCA to be bought by the IAF have their stalls at the Defexpo almost cheek by jowl and have been lobbying hard for their product. “India is the number one partner for the Russian defence industry, since it is not only the volume that is exported, but also the quality of the equipment and scientific technical potential that we put in India’s industrial military complex within this cooperation,” said Mr Victor Komardin, deputy director general of Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms corporation.
One of the biggest success stories of Indo-Russian collaboration in the weapons system is the Brahmos, the only supersonic cruise missile in the world. Both countries are equal partners in this project, contributing their own areas of expertise.
“We are very strong in guidance technology and software,” said Dr Sivathanu Pillai, CEO of Brahmos Aerospace, “whereas Russia is very strong in propulsion and cruise missile technology. So having technology available in both, and respecting each other in trust, we formed a joint venture”.

Source: The Statesman, 17 February 2010

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