Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) need to equip themselves to tap a $60 billion opportunity in aerospace and defence, said NITI Aayog member and Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) President VK Saraswat.

“The opportunity in defence and aerospace for India is estimated at $200 billion over the next 20 years. The offsetting will bring 30 per cent of this to MSMEs,” he said.

However, they need to overcome existing limitations of just being component manufacturers with not so updated technology.

“What we need to do is to make them graduate to the next level. Component manufacturers should become subsystem suppliers while subsystem suppliers should turn system integrators,” he said.

“Akash missile production alone will mean a business of ₹25,000-₹30,000 crore,” Saraswat said.

Stressing that skill development and innovation were vital, he said fab-less foundries should be set up to focus on chip designing. “As and when we are ready to manufacture chips, these designs can be used,” he said.

Some effort in VLSI design innovation was already made in places like Hyderabad, said G Sateesh Reddy, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd CMD T Suvarna Raju said the proposed manufacturing of a civilian aircraft was under way. “Once the special purpose vehicle by HAL and NAL is formed as per the government’s decision taken earlier, we can have the design of the aircraft ready in nine months,” he said.