Making a strong pitch for more investments in the defence sector, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said India has established itself as a hub for manufacture and export of quality aerospace components, and now has the competence for “nose-to-tail production”.

Speaking after inaugurating the 12th edition of the biennial Aero India 2019, Sitharaman said the Make in India initiative has provided an impetus for increased self-reliance in defence.

Giving details about the government’s performance in the defence sector, she said that over the past four years, 150 contracts worth about ₹1,27,500 crore have been signed with Indian vendors for procurement of defence equipment.

During the period, the government accorded Acceptance of Necessity to 164 proposals worth about ₹2,79,950 crore under various categories of capital procurement as per the Defence Procurement Procedure; this means Request for Proposal (RFP) is issued only to Indian vendors.

The value of production of the Ordnance Factory Board and defence PSUs has grown from ₹43,746 crore in FY14 to ₹58,163 crore in FY18, she said. Of this, 40 per cent of the production was outsourced to the private sector.

According to Sitharaman, the government has also facilitated the manufacture of seven types of ammunition by the private sector, backed by long-term contracts.

Air display

At an air display soon after the inauguration of the air show, defence PSU HAL dominated the scene with an impressive line-up of aircraft, starting with Mi-17 helicopters sporting the national flag. The Dakota DC-3, a vintage aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s, enthralled the crowd with its manoeuvres.

A set of 3-tonne class light utility helicopers flew in formation and are being considered for replacing the armed forces’ ageing Chetak and Cheetah fleets.