The India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)-plus conclave will see India pitching its military hardware to various countries

India has undertaken a transformative journey from being the largest defence importer to an exporter, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on October 17 at the curtain raiser event of the 12th edition of DefExpo in Gandhinagar.

Two major conclaves, the second edition of both the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)-plus conclave will see India pitching its military hardware to various countries.

“The IADD and IOR+ Conclave will be two very important events for promoting peace, security, prosperity and defence cooperation throughout the region and establishing new defence and industrial partnerships,” Mr. Singh said.

At the third day of the defence exhibition on October 20, 451 partnerships in terms of Memorandum of Understandings (MoU), Transfer of Technology agreements and product launches are expected compared with 210 at the last DefExpo, said Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.

Stating that India and Africa have been close friends and partners, Mr. Kumar said to take this forward, the two sides have been conducting a dialogue. This, he said, includes companies discussing with them, capacity building, and participation in tackling maritime threats like piracy and drug trafficking.

The government has set an ambitious target to achieve a manufacturing turnover of $25 billion, or ₹1,75,000 crore, including exports of $5 bn in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025. The government has announced a series of measures in this direction.

The country’s defence exports which have been growing year on year in the past few years touched ₹13,000 crore for 2021-22. For this financial year, they have reached ₹8,000 crore, Mr. Singh said in response to a question.

Largest Participation In This Edition

Briefing on the expo, Achal Malhotra, Director, Defence Exhibition Organisation in the Department of Defence Production, said 75 countries will be participating in DefExpo 2022. More than 53 African countries have been invited for IADD to be held on October 18 and 44 for the IOR+ conclave on October 19, he said.

This edition has the largest participation so far and is spread over one lakh square metres with 75 countries, 33 Foreign Ministers, 1,340 Indian companies and 10 State pavilions, Mr. Malhotra said.

The broad theme of the IADD was “India-Africa: Adopting Strategy for Synergising and Strengthening Defence and Security Cooperation’, the Defence Ministry said in a statement. “India and Africa share close and historical ties. India’s approach towards Africa is guided by the Kampala Principles enunciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018. India’s engagement rests on African priorities as outlined by Africans themselves.” it stated.

The first IADD was held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, during DefExpo 2020 and the ‘Lucknow Declaration’ was adopted at the end of the conclave as an outcome document. A similar ‘Gandhinagar document’ will be adopted at the IADD.

The IADD will explore new areas of convergence for mutual engagement, including in areas like capacity building, training, cyber security, maritime security and counter terrorism, the statement said.

As part of the DefExpo, live demonstration by the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard and the DRDO, showcasing land, naval and air procedures, and systems in action will be held from October 18 to 22 at the Sabarmati River Front. The joint live demonstration will include combat freefall, Sarang helio aerobatics, slithering from helicopters into a boat, high speed boat runs and neutralising enemy post.