The Indian Air Force (IAF) which is on the verge of re-inventing itself into a multi-spectrum strategic force will be spending around $40 billion to procure 350-400 new aircraft during the 12th five-year-plan.
The IAF had signed as many as 325 capital contracts worth $28.5 billon in the 11th plan.
Interestingly enough, $15.5 billion of this amount benefited Indian defence companies and signing of as many as 417 contracts with world majors to fulfill the offset clauses.
The most vital capability enhancement is perhaps the IAF’s modernisation of its fighter fleet, which has caused some concern in recent years due to the shrinking number of combat squadrons.
The air chief NAK Browne while stressing that the defence aerospace sector can be lucrative for the private industry, invited the industry to assume a greater role in the defence production, especially in the aerospace sector.
“To propel the IAF forward, we have to stop importing and do more indigenous development and production of equipment and aircraft and we need the Indian industry's support for this,” he said.
He said there had been a 'focus shift' in the Indian defence thinking and the force wanted to provide a level playing field for both public and private industries in defence aerospace space.
''Most of the players in the defence manufacturing sector are in the tier-II and tier-III stages of production capacities and at least some of them have to graduate to tier I stage to take up manufacturing of high end defence products,'' he said.
Urging the private sector to channel higher investment, Browne said the aerospace industry needs high technology and high investment.
“If you look at the life cycle like design, development, manufacturing and overhaul. The advantage with the Indian industry is that it has the cost advantage of 15 to 20 per cent compared to the world leaders,” he added.
The MMRCA project will bring in more offsets to Indian industry, also the government has taken several measures to make aerospace sector attractive through revised Defence Offset Guidelines and industry friendly defence procurement procedures.
Due to the shrinking global defence budget, the aerospace major 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 modernization programmes of the IAF.
Indian aerospace industry will have to focus on the developing in-house infrastructure, training and R and