Disturbances in neighbourhood pose security challenge: Antony

Disturbances in neighbourhood pose security challenge: Antony

Inaugurating the Aero India 2011, South Asia's top air show that took off at Yelahanka Air Force Station here, Antony said India's democratic credentials and a fast growing economy have convinced the world that it can play a responsible and a stabilising role in the region.

Noting that India has always been a votary of peace, he said, "Yet, violent disturbances in our immediate and extended neighbourhood pose security challenges for our nation and the region as a whole."

"Our Government is steadfast in its resolve to meet any challenge. We are, therefore, committed to ensure rapid modernisation of our armed forces and equip them with state-of-the-art systems, equipment and platforms".

Antony said, "Our current defence expenditure -- 2.5 per cent of its GDP, is consistent with our projected security requirements and is bound to increase over the next two decades".

Antony said India's aerospace sector has today emerged as the fastest-growing one in the world, noting that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is one company which has some rich experience in the field.

"Some other major companies have recently entered the fray. This is a positive and an encouraging development. We are open to Joint Ventures, public-private partnerships and licence production under transfer of technology for the all-round development of the aerospace industry", he said.

Antony said India has charted out a course to increase self-reliance in the defence sector by creating a strong industrial base in the country, and the recently-released defence production policy spells out the blueprint of the roadmap that the country intends to follow.

"We are encouraging our public and private sector industries to become active partners in this initiative. I am sure that leading international aerospace companies will form long-term partnerships with the Indian industry", he said.

Antony said the Government has been fine-tuning the defence procurement procedure through periodic reviews to make it as transparent and efficient as possible.

"We have expanded the scope of existing offset policy guidelines to include eligible products and services for the discharge of offset obligations.We hope that this will provide even better opportunities to foreign OEMs and at the same time build indigenous capabilities", he said.

Aero India 2011 is showcasing the latest international technology in military and civil aircraft, avionics and sub-systems, as well as radars in defence and aerospace sector.

"This event will further enhance India's emergence as an attractive market and a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms. India possesses all the essential ingredients -- namely cost-effective manufacturing, skilled engineers, efficient organisations,the technology and software to do so."

"I am sure that domestic and international firms in the aerospace and civil aviation sector will derive maximum benefit from the business potential displayed at this show", the Minister said.

Antony said compared to the 2009 edition, international participation has gone up by 25 per cent, with over 40 foreign delegations participating at this year's Aero India. Besides Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and Defence Production Secretary R K Singh were among those present at the inaugural function.