For the first time, Tamil Nadu will host DefExpo 2018, an international exhibition on Defence, in April, showcasing some of the latest technologies and products manufactured by both Indian and foreign companies. It will also give an opportunity for the State to showcase its strength as one the largest manufacturing hubs for defence production. The event, which is the largest in the defence sector in India, will attract visitors from over 80 countries, said Defence Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman.
DefExpo 2018 will be held between April 11 and 14 at a temporary expo centre on East Coast Road near Mahabalipuram. The Tamil Nadu Government has allotted land for the purpose, she said while inaugurating the two-day Defence-Industry Development Meet, an initiative that brought together Indian manufacturers of defence equipment, policymakers and representatives from the armed forces to take steps to enhance defence production by domestic companies. DefExpo India Land, Naval & Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition is held once in two years. The last edition was held in Goa, and the one before that in Delhi.
Tamil Nadu has several defence production plants, including a tank manufacturing unit in Avadi and ordnance factories in Avadi and Tiruchi. Coupled with L&T Katupalli Shipyard at Ennore, which manufactures ships for the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, the State has a robust defence production ecosystem. This can be leveraged further in sync with defence public sector undertakings in Bengaluru to create a major manufacturing corridor, she said. Mr Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production, said Tamil Nadu is the Detroit of Asia, and the next logical extension is to become strong in defence manufacturing. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr Edappadi K Palaniswami said the State government is in the process of coming out with an aerospace and defence policy to get a 30 per cent share in the sector, and create ‘high-end’ employment opportunities for around one lakh persons. Development of the Chennai Aerospace Park in Sriperumbudur is one of the initiatives to start with. The park, set up on 250 acres in the first phase and expandable to 500 acres in the next, will house nearly 50 aerospace or defence companies to form a strong base to support large OEMs, he said.
Later, speaking to newspersons, Smt Sitharaman said that in a major boost to Make in India in Defence, the Defence Acquisition Council, at its meeting on January 16, cleared a simplified ‘Make-II’ procedure to enable greater participation of industry in manufacture of Defence equipment. This will greatly help import substitution and promote innovative solutions, she said.