India-made missiles, radars, sonars and a range of defence products attracted global attention for potential exports at the Seoul ADEX 2013, the International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition Seoul, South Korea.

With export of sonars to Myanmar in process, Indian industries and the technology developer, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), are upbeat on prospects of giving a fillip to exports, Avinash Chander, Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister and chief of DRDO, said.

Akash, Pragati missiles

The Akash and Pragati missiles, Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft, and different radars, which were on display and some on demo drew not only visitors but also several enquiries from the industry, Avinash Chander, who returned from Seoul on Sunday, said.

A highlight of the event held during October 29 to November 3 for India was the showcasing of the Pragati missile.

It is a variant of Prahar, the tactical surface to surface missile with a range of 60-170 km. The all-weather, short-range, battle-field missile system is capable of neutralising ground targets and providing an effective counter-force weapon system, the DRDO chief said.

“India has participated in an international exhibition with offer of products for export and demonstrated indigenously developed weapon systems outside the country for perhaps the first time,’’ Avinash Chander told Business Line.

This could signal the emergence of India as a future, potential source of high quality weapon systems for the users. So far, India, the biggest arms importer, has been buying, he added.

Big scope for defence PSUs

The event offered Indian defence public sector units and private companies like BEL, BDL, Tatas, L&T etc. tremendous scope.

A meeting with the top executives of South Korea’s 14 major defence companies gave useful insights into the commonalities and needs. South Korea is the second biggest arms buyer. “We saw opportunities for joint venture and collaboration with Korean industry,’’ he said.

Key products to be exported

Asked about key products that can be exported in the near future, Avinash Chander said India has globally competitive products like LCA, BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, short-range missiles like Pragati, Akash, a range of radar systems, sonars, advance warning and surveillance systems, and pilot-less aircraft ‘Abhyas’ under development.

“Our advantage is lower cost of production,’’ he said.

The big take away from the international exhibition was the perception of India as a weapons designer with the capability to produce arms at competitive price, the DRDO chief said.

In the wake of the recent signing of an MoU by DRDO with South Korea during the visit of Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, the ADEX 2013 exhibition was a step forward to consolidate working together in futuristic defence technology areas between DRDO, Indian industry and South Korean counterparts, he said.

Somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 4, 2013)
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