Enhancement in FDI in defence manufacturing

On May 16, 2020, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance announced that global companies can now invest up to 74 per cent in the country’s defence manufacturing sector as against the existing limit of 49 per cent for foreign direct investment (FDI) under the automatic route i.e. without the need for prior approval by the Government. The announcement came as part of reforms undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in an attempt to revive the Indian economy that has been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister said that India will stop importing weapons that can be made in the country. “We will notify a list of weapons and platforms for ban on their imports and fix deadlines to do it,” she said.

Issue: 5-6/2020By Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (Retd)Photo(s): By PIB

An episode of serious concern for national security, was the face-off in the Galwan Valley of Eastern Ladakh between the soldiers of the Indian Army and those of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China on the night of June 15 - 16 this year. Unfortunately, on the Indian side, an officer of the rank of Colonel along with 19 soldiers laid down their lives in the service of the nation. This event has triggered the mobilisation of the Indian Armed Forces not only on the ground along the Line of Actual Control (LAC); but in the skies along it as also in the Indian Ocean. What is of greater concern is the devastating impact this escalation of conflict will have on the Indian economy. The Government needs to find ways to resolve the dispute with China through political and diplomatic means and avoid a military conflict.

At the end of the Combined Graduation Parade at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, in his formal address, Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), said that “The security scenario in our region mandates our armed forces to remain prepared and vigilant at all times”. The CAS assured the newly commissioned officers that the IAF was well prepared and suitably deployed to respond to any contingency. He said that the IAF is determined to deliver and will never let the sacrifice of our brave hearts of Galwan Valley to go in vain. Reports on the faceoff in the Galwan Valley and the morale boosting speech of the CAS by Air Marshal B.K. Pandey (Retd), have been included in this issue of the magazine.

The four Embraer 135 Legacy Business Jets that had been inducted into the Palam-based Air Headquarters Communication Squadron in the year 2005 marked the commencement of the much-needed modernisation of the transport fleet of the IAF that was dedicated to facilitating air transportation for VVIPs and VIPs not only in India, but to destinations abroad as well. This year, the Embraer Legacy fleet has completed 15 years of glorious service in the IAF and has earned the reputation of being an extremely reliable platform that has maintained a very high rate of serviceability. This issue of SP’s Aviation carries a comprehensive review of the Embraer Legacy Business Jets in service with the IAF as also the perspective of Group Captain Amit Roongta (Retd), a pilot who has logged nearly 3,000 hours of flying while serving with Air Headquarters Communication Squadron of the IAF. With significant increase in the commitments of the Squadron over the last 15 years, there is a definite need for at least four more aircraft, the latest version of these Legacy jets, to meet the enhanced requirements.

The COVID-19 Pandemic appears to have affected the delivery schedule of the 36 Rafale fighter jets to the IAF. However, Lt General P.C. Katoch (Retd) argues in his article that the Rafale will undoubtedly boost the air power of the Air Force and enhance the overall combat potential and deterrence value.

A result of the COVID-19 pandemic is the boost to private aviation at the cost of commercial aviation. As airlines are forced to shut down their operations, all compulsory travel has shifted to private aviation. This is expected to continue post-COVID as well as travelers will take time to accept the perceived health hazards and adjust to the new requirements of commercial travel.

All this and more in this issue of SP’s Aviation. Welcome aboard and wish you many happy landings!

Jai Hind!