By Sangeeta Saxena

Chennai. 11April 2018And today turned out to be the best surprise. No jams, no long queues to enter and  just a perfect media centre to work in. Defexpo on Day1 does give us a pleasant feel, despite the hot Chennai weather. For all of us who came here yesterday to see the pre-event state of a venue which had kept every one associated with the show back home in the national capital skeptic, went back keeping the fingers crossed.

But the participation though has a global presence with 517 Indian exhibitors and 154 international exhibitors, seems very less in comparison to the previous years.  47 official delegations from different countries have confirmed their participation in DefExpo . 13 of these delegations are at Ministerial level. Several countries have large delegations with over 10 delegates showing tremendous interest in DefExpo 2018. Ministerial level delegations are from countries including USA, UK, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nepal, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Seychelles, Vietnam.

But the countries which are participating do have an optimistic view. The U.S. Government delegation will be led by Kenneth I. Juster, U.S. Ambassador to India, and Major General Bryan Suntheimer, Deputy Commanding General of U.S. Army Pacific.“The U.S. designation of India as a Major Defense Partner marked a milestone in U.S.-India defense cooperation,” said Ambassador Juster. “President Trump and Prime Minister Modi are driving forward this Major Defense Partnership and our broader strategic relationship with a shared vision for peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Together, the United States and India are building a dynamic defense relationship through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, military exercises, official visits and exchanges, and the sales of military systems and platforms. In addition, the U.S. defense industry has demonstrated its commitment to partnering with India to provide the highest quality, most reliable, and most technologically-advanced defense equipment and systems in the world – from small arms, to unmanned aerial systems, to helicopters and fighter aircraft. Nineteen U.S. companies will exhibit at this year’s DEFEXPO; many more are participating. A number of these companies have operated in India for years, while others are new to the market.

“The UK government and UK defence companies are seeking to deepen and broaden their strategic defence equipment partnerships with India at Defexpo 2018. The UK’s attendance at Defexpo 2018 will focus on creating a genuine “two-way street” of defence equipment collaboration, investment and technology transfer,” the UK High Commission said. The UK delegation is led by Guto Bebb, minister for defence procurement, and includes representatives of 20 UK-based companies and government officials.

Delegation-level talks between India and South Korea in New Delhi on Monday focused on defence industry and logistics cooperation. The delegation is at defexpo today.

French delegation under GIFAS has the top defence majors at the show. Eric Trappier, the Chairman of GIFAS and Chairman of CIDEF (Council of French Defence Industries), has enlisted 60 French aerospace industrial companies for this outward mission to further French-Indian cooperation efforts.  The delegation will make stops in New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad, where meetings are organised to bring together the sectors’ companies from both countries. The major aviation and space players representing both civilian and defence business interests will be present – Airbus, Ariane Group, Dassault Aviation, MBDA, Safran and Thales – not to mention 54 subcontractors, suppliers, SMEs and equipment manufacturers.

The  industry associations like ASSOCHAM, CII, FICCI and USIBC all have there seminars and discussions organized.  Minister will be holding a press conference  at 1200hrs.

Now it is  time to move on to the exhibition area. So watch out for the next update in the late afternoon.