Letter from the Editor | October 2022

Until now, the month of October was reserved for the Indian Air Force Day on the 8th. This year was even more special as the IAF, raised in 1932, completed 90 years of its existence. Resorting to a cliché, it has been a long and remarkable journey, worthy of raising a toast to.

However, the government of India decision to hold DefExpo 2022, which was postponed in March, from October 18 turned out to be the gate crasher in the IAF party. Making the best of the avoidable situation, this issue of FORCE celebrates both, the IAF and the Indian defence industry. After all, the state of the nation’s defence preparedness also depends upon the health of its defence industrial complex, more so, after the proclamation of Aatmanirbhar Bharat or India that relies on itself.

Hence, this October issue is held together by two streams of ideas balanced on the plank of jointness. One, stocktaking of IAF’s capabilities and challenges; and two, reviewing ‘Make in India’ and ‘Make in India for the World.’ After all, defence preparedness needs deliverables, not slogans.

Perhaps, for the first time in India, politics has taken precedence over everything else. The biennial DefExpo 2022, traditionally held in the February of every even year was scheduled to be held in March this year in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat. However, less than a week before the show, the government of India announced its postponement citing logistical reasons due of Russia’s special operations in Ukraine. The reason appeared unconvincing because flights to India from the West (Europe or the US) were not greatly affected by the conflict. Also, as half-hearted attempts to broker peace by France failed, it was obvious that the Russia-Ukraine conflict was no longer about these two nations alone. Hence, it would be a prolonged affair. Given this, it seemed inevitable that the ‘postponed’ DefExpo was effectively cancelled, and the ministry of defence would focus on a bigger Aero India 2023, weaving in elements of land and sea as a true statement on jointness. In any case, for the last two shows, the catchline for Aero India had gone beyond aerospace. At the last show, it was: The runway to a billion opportunities. So, in February 2023, this runway could have platformed the land and maritime capabilities too.

But the rationalists had not factored in politics. And the looming assembly elections in Gujarat, scheduled to be held in December 2022. The Prime Minister owed Gujarat a DefExpo before the elections. So, it must have one. And it is having one, never mind that it is now a domestic show, exclusively for Indian companies. To make up for the numbers, the MoD has magnanimously offered to count as ‘Indian’ foreign companies which have an ‘Indian Subsidiary’ or a ‘Division of Company registered in India’ or a ‘Joint Venture with an Indian company’.

On its website, which showcases various moods of the Prime Minister through images and videos instead of made in India technologies, DefExpo 2022 proudly proclaims—’World to Witness the Expanse of Indian Defence Manufacturing.’ Except that the world is busy with other shows in other parts of the world.

Happy 90th to the IAF!



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