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    India, the New Kid in Defense Exports, Ratchets Healthy Growth

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    Export licenses issued to Indian domestic companies have jumped eight times since Narendra Modi became PM in mid-2014. But in absence of home grown technology, it will have to depend on global manufacturers for further breakthroughs.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) In an indication of the present Government's focus on advancing defense manufacturing, India's global sale of defense equipment has increased to almost double than last year.

    The Indian government has provided a major boost to indigenous defense equipment capabilities by granting production licenses to 116 Indian companies. Defense Ministry documents suggest that India has turned its focus towards sale of aviation items to smaller countries after gaining a favorable response in selling naval equipment to countries having differences with an assertive China. Apart from government units, New Delhi has issued 54 industrial licenses to Indian private companies for the manufacture of aviation items such as aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), lighter-than-air-vehicles, remotely piloted vehicles, parts and accessories for aircraft, air flights, airframes sets, landing gears and related equipment.

    Till now, India's major defense exports comprise patrol vessels, helicopters & their spares, sonars & radars, small arms, small caliber ammunition, grenades and telecommunication equipment etc.

    In value terms, India's defense exports in 2013-14 were $174 million, which crossed to $309 million in fiscal 2015-16; reveals Ministry of Defense documents. The government has become more liberal in distributing export license to Indian companies. Defense companies have received 241 ‘no objection certificates' in fiscal 2015-16, which is more than six times in comparison to fiscal 2014-15. The government has set an ambitious target of $ 2 billion in defense equipment exports by fiscal 2017-18.

    However, without indigenous R & D capabilities, India is mainly supplying products built on technology licenses provided by global equipment manufacturers. The Indian government is pushing hard to sell its indigenously assembled LCA ‘Tejas' to cost-conscious countries in Asia and helicopters to Latin American countries. But it is not known if re-export permissions are required from overseas suppliers of components of Tejas. Its engines are American, radar, helmet display and laser pod of Israeli make and Russia has supplied the canons and missiles.

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