Business & Defence

DefExpo 2022: Over 900 firms to take part

The numbers are expected to increase in the coming days as confirmations continue to pour in. The number of firms that will take part in the show is likely to cross 1,000, they added.

More than 900 defence firms and 55 countries have confirmed their participation in Asia’s largest defence exhibition, DefExpo 2022, which will be held in Gandhinagar from March 10 to 13, officials familiar with the development said on Wednesday.

The numbers are expected to increase in the coming days as confirmations continue to pour in. The number of firms that will take part in the show is likely to cross 1,000, they added.

The focus of India’s flagship defence exhibition is on projecting the country as an emerging defence manufacturing hub. Of the 900 exhibitors at the biennial event, more than 100 are foreign players. The event will also be attended by venture capitalists who will look at the possibility of making investments in defence start-ups, said one of the officials cited above.

A 1,000-drone display is expected to be one of the highlights of the exhibition. This will be the second time such a show is being organised in the country. It was first organised at the Beating Retreat in Delhi on January 29. The drone show will be organised by Botlab Dynamics, a start-up supported by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and the department of science and technology (DST). Only the US, Russia and China have the capability to put together a show with 1,000 drones.

Foreign delegations will be headed by at least 50 defence ministers/service chiefs.

The US pavilion will be the largest among the global participants, while Indian firms that have taken maximum space are the Adani and Tata groups, said a second official. “It will be the largest DefExpo since the inaugural edition in 1996,” he said.

Seven new defence firms carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board will also take part in the exhibition, he added. The board was corporatized last year to boost its efficiency and competitiveness in a long-awaited reform in the country’s defence manufacturing sector.

The line-up of events includes a naval demonstration at the Sabarmati river front, the officials said.

The event comes at a time when the government has sharpened its focus on promoting self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector and positioning itself as an exporter of military hardware.

DefExpo was traditionally held in Delhi until 2014 after which it has seen a string of new venues — Goa (2016), Chennai (2018) and Lucknow (2020). The venue was shifted to Goa when Manohar Parrikar was the defence minister, it moved to Chennai when Nirmala Sitharaman held the portfolio and it was staged in Lucknow with Rajnath Singh as the defence minister.

From raising foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing to creating a separate budget for buying locally-made military hardware and notifying two lists of weapons/equipment that cannot be imported, the government has taken a raft of measures to boost self-reliance in the defence sector over the last two to three years.

Earlier this month, India had earmarked ₹84,598 crore — 68% of the military’s capital acquisition budget for 2022-23 — for purchasing locally produced weapons and systems to boost self-reliance in the defence sector, besides setting aside 25% of the defence R&D budget for private industry, start-ups and academia to encourage them to pursue design and development of military platforms.

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