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Rajnath Singh reviews prep for Aero India-2021 amid Covid-19

SU-30MKI-g4sp heavy class, long-range, multi-role, air superiority fighter and strike fighter, in Indian Air Force insignia. (G4sp/WikiCommons)

Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Friday reviewed the preparations for Asia’s largest air show, Aero India, to be staged at the Yelahanka air base outside Bengaluru next year in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, officials familiar with development said on Friday.

The biennial air show will be staged from February 3 to 7 with all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease, the officials said.

Singh is monitoring all developments related to the international aerospace and defence exhibition. The defence ministry’s spokesperson on Friday tweeted that the air show is taking wings and the minister reviewed the roadmap for Aero India-2021.

“All precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will be followed. It’s a prestigious event and will be held as planned. Top defence firms have shown interest in taking part in the show,” the officials said.

The air show is a significant event in the defence ministry’s calendar, given that self-reliance in the sector is a top priority for the government.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India had the potential to become a reliable weapons supplier to friendly foreign countries and strengthen its strategic partnerships as it takes strides towards self-reliance in the defence sector.

India has taken several key steps to boost self-reliance in the defence sector such as creating a separate budget for the purchase of locally-produced military hardware, notifying a negative import list and raising the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit.

Earlier this month, the government announced a separate budgetary outlay of Rs 52,000 crore for domestic capital procurement and came out with a negative import list. Indian announced on August 9 that it will ban the import of 101 different types of weapons, systems and ammunition over the next five years — from artillery guns to light military transport aircraft and conventional submarines to long-range land attack cruise missiles.

The PM said more defence items would be progressively added to the negative import list to encourage the domestic industry that can look forward to more orders in the coming times as a result of initiatives taken to boost self-reliance. The government is likely to notify a second negative import list early next year.

Ahead of Aero India-2021, the defence ministry is likely to issue a request for proposal for building next-generation submarines in the country, one of the costliest Make in India programmes in the military sector.

Six advanced submarines will be built under Rs 50,000-crore project P-75I to scale up the navy’s undersea warfare capabilities and counter the rapid expansion of China’s submarine fleet. The project will be pursued under the government’s ‘strategic partnership’ (SP) model, which seeks to provide fillip to the government’s Make in India programme.

The Indian strategic partners cleared to collaborate with foreign vendors are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and L&T. The foreign yards they can team up with for the project are the French Naval Group, German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau, Spain’s Navantia and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company.

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© 2020 the Hindustan Times