An Utsav of Agreements

An unprecedented 200 MoUs were signed at DefExpo 2020

Palak Gupta

The 11th edition of DefExpo had over 200 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) signed, which was enough for the defence minister Rajnath Singh to declare it as “historic”. It further convinced him that this was a step forward towards achieving the goal of USD5 billion worth of defence exports in the next five years.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh, UP CM Yogi Adityanath along with defence secretary Ajay Kumar at Bandhan ceremony during which 200 MoUs were signed

The government, as defence secretary Ajay Kumar pointed out, was taken by surprise because it had hoped only 100 MoUs would be signed.

The MoUs, aimed at transforming defence manufacturing in the country, were inked by several Defence Public Sector Units (DPSUs), Indian private defence companies and foreign companies.

In addition to this, a total of 13 products including Light Utility Helicopter by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Sharang 155mm artillery gun by Ordnance Factor Board (OFB) among others were launched at Bandhan ceremony on February 7.

“The DPSUs and the Indian defence private industry are better placed today to lead India as the emerging research and development (R&D) hub of the world, leveraging the sharp minds of Indian youth,” a statement from the defence ministry quoted Singh.

The five-day biennial defence exposition which was held in Lucknow from 5-9 February 2020 saw participation from as many as 1,000 exhibitors, including 165 foreign companies from the US, France, Germany, Russia, Israel, Australia etc., a jump from 702 in the last edition held in Chennai. The booked exhibition space by exhibitors this year increased from last edition’s 27,000 square metres to over 53,000 square metres this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the DefExpo2020.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath described DefExpo as ‘Defence Kumbh’, and according to him, the event witnessed presence of more than 3,000 foreign delegates, 10,000 Indian delegates and 12 lakh visitors, and “laid a strong foundation for development of the UP defence corridor.”

Out of the 200 MoUs signed, 23 were by the Uttar Pradesh government. It is expected that the MoUs will fetch investments worth Rs 50,000 in the UP defence corridor, and also generate Rs 3 lakh job opportunities. The corridor covers six cities: Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Aligarh and Agra.

Indian and Russian firms signed 14 MoUs during the 5th India Russia military industry conference held on the sidelines of the DefExpo. The conference aimed to resolve the issues of manufacturing of spare parts of Russian-origin equipment which is used by the Indian defence forces. The conference was co-chaired by defence secretary Ajay Kumar and Russia’s deputy minister of industry and trade Oleg Ryazantsev.

“The first ‘Request for Proposal’ for manufacturing of parts in India under the provision of IGA was also handed over by the Indian Navy to the identified Indian industry. The sides acknowledged that this would pave the way for more cases and contracts for joint manufacturing of spares parts, in the days ahead,” a statement from the ministry of defence read.

These MoUs are a step forward from the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) which India and Russia signed on joint manufacturing of spares, parts, components in India at Vladivostok on 4 September 2019.

Here is the list of other MoUs signed by several defence companies at the show:


BEL on the Roll

Lockheed Martin-BEL: Lockheed Martin has signed an MoU with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to explore industrial opportunities in the F-21 programme. Lockheed Martin is strengthening and growing its partnerships with the Indian industry to support the company’s F-21 proposal for the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“We are excited to begin exploring F-21 opportunities with BEL, one of India’s leading aerospace and defence companies,” said Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President of Stragety and Business Development, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “An F-21 partnership with India integrates Indian industry, including BEL, into the world’s largest and most successful fighter aircraft ecosystem and demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to India.”

Anandi Ramalingam, Director (Marketing), BEL, said: “We are happy to collaborate with Lockheed Martin which is a global major in the aerospace sector. We are eagerly looking forward to cash in on this co-operation to address domestic and international market needs in this sector.”


BEL-JSR: Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has signed a Collaboration and Marketing Agreement with JSR Dynamics Pvt Ltd (JSR), a Nagpur-based start-up. According to the press note, the agreement aims at leveraging the individual design and manufacturing capabilities of BEL and JSR to develop Glide Bombs, Range Extension Kit and Light Weight Cruise Missile, which have business potential in both the domestic and international market. Anandi Ramalingam, Director (Marketing), BEL, and Air Marshal Shirish Deo (retd), MD, JSR Dynamics Pvt Ltd, signed the agreement on behalf of BEL and JSR.


BEL-CSIR-NAL: Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has signed an MoU with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) for co-operation in the field of avionics and establishing infrastructure for composite manufacturing. BEL is jointly working with CSIR-NAL in developing Avionics Suite for civilian aircraft SARAS and HANSA. The Avionics Suite includes Smart Displays, Flight Control Computer, Communication Suite, surveillance system based on Millimetre Wave Radar, Multi-Function Displays, NAVCOM System, etc.

NAL, a constituent of CSIR, India, established in the year 1959, is the only government aerospace R&D laboratory in the country’s civilian sector.


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