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Aero India 2021: Partnerships on the rise despite Covid-19

The Indian government has said that despite the impact of Covid-19 nearly 150 industry agreements were signed by aerospace and defence (A&D) firms at the Aero India 2021 show in Bangalore, which lasted three days and concluded 5 February.

The deals are mainly focused on supporting localised production and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) activity and are consistent with the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) stated target to significantly reduce the value of imported defence equipment over the coming few years.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in comments published by the MoD that the 147 agreements signed at the show – comprising 128 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and 19 technology transfer deals – indicated local and foreign industry’s continuing commitment towards the Indian A&D market, despite immediate challenges related to the pandemic.

The industry agreements – which were more than announced at the Aero India show in 2019 – featured several that involved India’s biggest state-run firms Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

HAL, for instance, signed an MOU with Lockheed Martin to “explore opportunities” for collaboration in A&D activity, an agreement with GE Aviation for the supply of military/commercial aerospace components, and accords with Safran and Rolls-Royce to expand co-operation on aero-engines for civilian/military aircraft.

BEL signed a defence offset agreement with Russian export agency Rosoboronexport to build in India components including aircraft hoses and several accords with locally based private-sector firms to support subcontracting activity.

In addition to its agreement with HAL, Lockheed Martin signed accords with Tata Advanced Systems to collaborate on meeting India’s naval helicopter requirements and with Midhani to co-operate on raw materials. Boeing and Airbus also signed MOUs to support Indian MRO work.

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