BENGALURU: India is seeking billion-dollar military aircraft, scrapping jetliner deals to meet civilian demand and pressure global aircraft makers to produce more locally at a major air show this week.
flanked by nuclear armed rivals China and PakistanIndia has the world’s fourth largest air force but its largely Soviet-era fleet is in dire need of modernisation. It also wants aircraft for aircraft carriers to counter China’s growing power in the Indian Ocean.
As the country prepares to host the Aero India Show in Bengaluru from Monday, its airlines are expanding, with Air India announcing a possible record deal to buy around 500 jets from Airbus SE and Boeing Co. is expected to be worth over $100 billion at list price. ,
IndiGo, the country’s largest carrier and a top Airbus customer, could be next, with aviation consultant CAPA India predicting it will place a blockbuster order of similar scale to Air India.
CAPA said Indian carriers could buy 1,500 to 1,700 aircraft in the coming years, including Air India and Indigo.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi The air show is about to begin, which will run till Friday. It will be military-dominated but will also reflect India’s efforts to accommodate the boom in domestic travel and rebuild its brand overseas.
Modi has made “Make-in-India” a centerpiece of his economic policy, insisting that manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing and Airbus share technology or make more than parts in the country.
His government could mean more industrial supply deals to expand the world’s fifth-largest economy to $5 trillion by 2026 from $3.2 trillion in 2021.
military, commercial competition
“on the day of foreign companies Direct sales to India are over, said a source in the defense industry reuters, “The narrative has changed because the Modi government wants Indian companies to build in partnership with global firms.”
The push for transfer of high technology and domestic manufacturing reflects Modi’s ambition to share the stage with military superpowers such as the United States, Russia and China.
At the same time, airlines such as Air India are seeking to compete with rivals such as Emirates Airline for a larger share of international passenger flows. But many analysts caution that it will face stiff competition to reclaim traffic from established Gulf hubs.
With manufacturers eyeing a multi-billion dollar opportunity and a chance to partner with the rising power, Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc has said it is ready to work with India on the development of fighter-aircraft engine technologies.
New Delhi is trying to reduce its traditional reliance on Russia, turning to the United States, France and Israel for equipment and advancing its Tejas light combat aircraft.
The embassy in New Delhi said the US delegation would be the largest in the 27-year history of the air show. “As India modernises its defense capabilities, of course we want to be the partner of choice.”
India’s urgent military air need to shore up its fighter squadrons, which have dropped from a sanctioned 42 to 31, has been delayed by procurement due to political and bureaucratic hurdles and lack of funds. A $20 billion proposal to buy 114 multi-role fighter jets has been pending for five years, with the focus being on tensions. China and Pakistan,
French Dassault Aviation SA, the largest military aircraft manufacturer in such deals, with a focus on Rafale, Saab AB, the JAS-39 Gripen, Boeing’s F-15EX and F/A-18 Super Hornet, and Lockheed Martin’s F-21 Want to An upgraded version of the F-16 was unveiled at the India show in 2019.