The Indian Air Force (IAF) is all set to spend over $40 billion (Rs.2 lakh crore) in the next 10 years between 2012 and 2022 on procurement, Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal RK Sharma has said.
"We are on path of modernising our (IAF) assets. In the last five-year plan, IAF procurement was worth around Rs.1.5 lakh crore (about $35 billion) and over next two plan (2012-17 and 2017-22) periods (12th and 13th five-year plans), we envisage to procure assets worth over Rs.2 lakh crore ($40 billion)," Sharma said inaugurating the seventh international conference on 'Energizing Indian Aerospace Industry: Emerging Opportunities and Enduring Partnerships.'
The event is co-organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS).
The future procurements include 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) worth over $11 billion, 250 fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) worth $22 billion, apart from numerous military infrastructure projects. In the recent years, India has already signed contracts worth $4 billion, including the 10 C-17 planes from the American firm Boeing's stable, for its IAF.
Sharma said there was "huge potential" for the private sector to work in the Defence sector but it should be done by "adopting best ethical practices".
"You must adopt best ethical practices and be extremely sensitive to IAF's concerns about the security of information," he said.
The IAF deputy chief also noted that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) must not see the private sector as a competitor, but as a partner in developing an indigenous Defence industry in the country.
Sharma also noted that the MMRCA procurement would bring in a good quantum of offsets into the Indian Defence industry and that the government has taken several steps to make the aerospace sector more attractive for investment through the revised Defence offsets guidelines and industry-friendly Defence procurement procedures.
The IAF deputy chief also noted that due to the shrinking global Defence budget, the aerospace majors will be forced to share critical technologies with the Indian industry.
"There is a lot of scope for both public and private sector to participate in the modernisation programmes of the IAF. Indian aerospace industry will have to focus on developing in-house infrastructure, training and research and development capabilities to energise this sector," he added.
Bangalore-based public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Director (Design and Development) T Suvarnaraju, speaking at the event, said India is among the top four or five countries currently pursuing advanced aerospace programmes.
HAL, in partnership with Russia, is working on the FGFA.
Suvanaraju also pointed out that HAL will soon become a 'Maharatna' (Great Jewel classification for Indian public sector firms) company from the current Navaratna (Nine Jewels) company.
"The problems in the aerospace sector are structural in nature and not related to the ownership. One should also understand that aerospace sector is technologically sensitive and highly regulated by the government," he said.
CII National Defence Council co-chairman and Samtel Group chairman Samtel Group Satish K Kaura said that there is a need to combine the strengths of the private and public sector to take advantage of the surging domestic demand and become self-reliant in the Defence sector in particular.
"India already has a strong aerospace industry, and aerospace component and Defence equipment makers have been thriving. The country has a pool of qualified engineering, science and computing graduates; availability of high-tech/precision equipment; materials and consumables; established production systems; a strong IT industry; world-class educational institutions; a good network of aeronautical development laboratories; favourable geographical location and manufacturing cost advantage," Kaura said.
"The aerospace industry is, therefore, set to contribute substantially to India's economic growth," he added.
CAPS Director General Air Commodore (Retired) Jasjit Singh and CII Principal Advisor and Head for Defence, Aerospace and Security Gurpal Singh too spoke.