New Delhi , Mar. 17 : Highlighting the importance of being self-sufficient in the defence production sector, Minister of Defence, Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley said that the defence sector needs to be a key area of focus with regards to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' initiative.
"India is one of the largest importers of defence equipment in the world, and this definitely is not a label we are happy with," he said, addressing the inaugural session at the ongoing India-Russia Military Industrial Conference here today.
Jaitley stressed on the relations with Russia being at the crux of India's foreign policy. The Minister further said that since the signing of the India-Russia Strategic Partnership in 2000, ties between the two sides have acquired new heights with enhanced level of cooperation in almost all areas including defence.
"India-Russia Military Technical Cooperation has graduated from a simple buyer-seller relation to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence systems. The Brahmos Missile System and production of SU-30 in India are examples of such flagship cooperation. There is tremendous potential for collaboration between Indian and Russian companies for export, so as to become part of the global supply chain," Jaitley said in his address.
The conference was also attended by foreign dignitaries such as the Minister for Industry and Trade of Russian Federation, Denis Manturov and others. About 150 representatives from Russia participated in the conference. From India, over 100 private companies including several SMEs were present.
Organised by the Department of Defence Production in the Ministry of Defence, the conference aims at addressing issues related to life-cycle support and maintenance of major Russian-origin equipments/ platforms such as SU-30 MKI aircraft, Mi-17 Helicopters, MiG-29K aircraft, INS Vikramaditya and T-90 tanks.
The conference will provide an opportunity to the Indian industry to explore possibilities of manufacturing of parts/ components of Russian equipment in India through partnerships with Russian companies.
The conference was flagged off with two agreements being signed between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation of Russia, for general terms and conditions governing long term supply of spares and rendering technical assistance over five years for the Su -30 MKI aircraft.