By Madhusmita Priyadarshini/ livemint.com
While the Airbus crisis is still waiting to be resolved, the parent company of Airbus, the world’s second largest aerospace company,European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), is on a mission to secure a strong foothold in the defence industry in India.
In a meeting between EADS and Indian companies, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) on 4 April 2007, the representatives of the European company were upbeat about possibilities of co-operation with their Indian counterparts.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services and includes Airbus, Eurocopter, EADS Astrium as its subsidiaries.It is also a major partner in the Eurofighter consortium and holds a stake in the joint venture MBDA, the international leader in missile systems. It’s presence in India is through a wholly-owned subsidiary, EADS India Pvt Ltd and is expecting to benefit from the Indian Industrial and R&D resources.
Addressing the conference, Yves Guillaume, CEO of EADS India Pvt Ltd said his company was ready to expand its portfolio and propose solutions to the Indian Defence Ministry. EADS would invest in an engineering centre in the country to develop aviation software and aircraft designs for its planes and other systems.
The centre, for which land has been leased at the upcoming Bangalore airport, would house units of major Indian software firms like HCL, Satyam and Infosys as well as some European companies to develop specific software and designs.
The software would be produced for defence systems and civilian planes like the largest Airbus A-380s and the forthcoming A-350, besides military aircraft.
EADS is also discussing strategic partnerships with several public and private sector defence companies that have production licences from the Defence Ministry.
EADS firm Eurocopter and HAL are proposing a common offer to the Navy’s multi-role helicopter programme, while other EADS firms and their Indian counterparts are co-developing electronic warfare systems.
Air Cmde (Retd) Jasjit Singh, in his address, spoke of the transformation in Indian military and achieving a level of military muscle to maintain and defend basic capabilities. To attain a minimum self-reliance on this front he added it was important to look for partnerships and build a level of interdependence.
On the offset policy of the government, Kiran Chadha, joint secretary of the ministry of defence and chairperson of Defence Offset Facilitation Agency (DOFA), said the doors were always open to MNCs. She said the Ministry of Defence wanted to equip the forces in time, with quality stuff, in enough numbers and also at competitive prices. She envisaged a globally competitive defence industry in India, self-reliant in key areas of defence production, with private sector playing a meaningful role. She was also concerned about dilly-dallying of MNCs on transfer of technology and said the issue could be resolved by making core technology a part of offset contract.
On complaints about the cumbersome licencing procedure, she said 30 licences have been issued in just five months. She added the ministry is considering removal of licence for software and services, but ruled out possibilities of India going for indirect offsets in any near future.