With 2017 just passed into history and 2018 bringing in hope for peace and security globally, lets see where the focus of the world will be in the next twelve months.
With terrorism in land, turbulence in seas and trouble in skies due to terrorist outfits, countries vying for one upmanship and one dictator who loves to show his power in the skies, just four countries come into the mind which will be the biggest buyers of defence products . And these are Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea, and Japan. And these are where the top ten aerospace and defence companies will have to concentrate on, if they are already not doing so.
A peep into the year gone by and we know which these top ten are, starting from Boeing and ending with United Technologies Corporation(UTC). In the second position is Airbus Defence & Space, followed by Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Rolls Royce, Raytheon, BAE Systems and Safran, in the order of descent. And all of them have realised that Middle East, Indian and Korean peninsulas, have to be their focus of attention, while the game of war and peace goes on. The Aerospace and Defence industry is likely to experience a good growth in the year ahead.
India has the third largest military in the world and is the sixth biggest defence spender. One of the largest importers of conventional defence equipment it spends around 30% of its total defence budget on capital acquisitions. 60% of defence related requirements are currently met through imports. It is a double whammy for all these global top ten. They can export through Government to Government sales and establish themselves as partners in Make in India projects. With existing defence equipment becoming redundant the procurement process is forging ahead. This is also an opportunity Indian defence industry has been waiting for. Partnering with the global majors to make in India, the playing field now promises to be more level for our indigenous manufacturers.
The year started with a bang when US President Donald trump tweeted, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” This is a great victory for India. Previous US governments did lip service but never reprimanded Pakistan so openly, despite that their most wanted Osama bin Laden was neutralized in his Pakistan home by the US Marines. This is a welcome statement and should make Pakistan ponder. But this also means that Pakistan will lean more on China which means China gets deep and easy entry into Pakistani territory, thereby sitting on India’s edge more comfortably.
So we need all the gaps in procurement and inventory to be filled as soon as possible, not because India wants to offend but because it wants to defend and that too in the best possible way with the state-of-art equipment. So procurement should be the key mantra in 2018 and its speed has to be of the hare and not of the tortoise. And this can happen only if the bureaucrats in the corridors of South Block change their attitude and ensure files are not for gathering dust but for signing and decisions are not for keeping pending but to be taken.
Hope the year proves to be good for Indian forces and the industry. It is this symbiotic relationship which will keep the nation strong and steady and the political powers that be will have to ensure that the soldier gets modernised but without a delay. What we need today is for today pending it for tomorrow and day-after-tomorrow is a morale dampener.
Looking forward to a better year for the Indian defence forces and the Central Armed Police Forces. Welcome 2018!