Singapore firm bids for $3 bn India defence deals

Singapore firm bids for $3 bn India defence deals

* Plans local manufacturing base; open to JV, acquisitions

* Sees $1 bln revenues from India non-defence business

* To begin India trials of Towed Howitzer in February (Recasts; adds quotes, details)

New Delhi: ST Kinetics, part of Singapore Technologies Engineering, said it bid for five Indian defence contracts worth $3 billion and is keen to set up a manufacturing base in the country.

The tenders comprise two artillery gun projects and a light strike vehicle for the army and two carbine rifle projects for internal security.

ST Engineering, majority-owned by Singapore state investment agency Temasek, is the city-state’s biggest arms manufacturer and the world’s largest aircraft repair firm.

India is upgrading its largely Soviet-era arsenal to counter potential threats from Pakistan and China. The Indian army needs new weapons urgently as its last major acquisition, of Bofors Howitzers, was in 1986.

“If all five tenders we have bid for come through, we will have revenue of $3 billion over five years," Patrick Choy, chief marketing officer of ST Kinetics, told reporters.

Choy said the company hopes to earn $1 billion from non-defence business in India over 3-5 years, mainly through selling speciality vehicles used in mining, excavation and road construction. The firm is keen to set up a base in India to manufacture speciality vehicles and is looking for a local partner.

“We are prepared to form a company here, or do a joint venture or buy out a local firm to start manufacturing in India."

ST Kinetics is also talking to local companies to help set up an MRO (aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul) business in India, Choy added. The company already has a strategic pact with Punj Lloyd for defence production.

The Singapore firm will begin India trials next month of its 155 mm Towed Howitzer for the army, where it will compete against the Bofors guns, Choy said.

As part of its broad military upgrade, India is seeking millions of dollars worth of heavy-lift helicopters, submarines, ships and artillery for its army, a KPMG report has said.

Only 15% of India’s equipment is “state of the art", according to the first comprehensive report on the country’s defence sector prepared by KPMG and the Confederation of Indian Industry.