Gandhinagar: Highlighting the country's huge strides in the defence sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said Indian defence products export increased eight times since 2014.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday inaugurated 'DefExpo 2022' in Gandhinagar.

With an aim to give impetus to the defence sector, India's "biggest ever" defence exhibition - DefExpo 2022 is being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. This is the 12th edition of the event that has been organised on the theme 'Path to Pride'.

Speaking at the occasion, PM Modi said, "DefExpo is displaying a grand picture of the New India. It has the nation's development, states' participation, youth power, young dreams, young courage and youth's capabilities. Defence Expo used to be held in our country earlier too but DefExpo2022 is unprecedented. It is the symbol of a new beginning."

He said it is the first such Defence Expo in the country where only Indian companies are participating and where there are only Made in India defence equipment.

"In the defence sector, new India is moving ahead with the mantra of intent, innovation and implementation. Indian defence companies today are becoming a significant part of the global supply chain. Indian defence products export increased eight folds in the last eight years."

PM said Defence forces will release a list of 101 items that will be barred from import. With this, he said 411 defence-related goods can only be procured locally.

Prime Minister further emphasised on the cooperation between African nations and India in the defence sector.

He said, "The biggest Defence Expo of the country so far has marked an emphatic beginning of a new future. I know that this has also caused inconvenience to some countries but several countries, with a positive mindset, have come with us. I am delighted that when India is giving shape to these opportunities of the future, 53 African nations that are friends of India are standing shoulder to shoulder with us."

"In the arena of Defence and Security, the cooperation and synergies developed between India and the African nations have taken our mutual relations to yet newer heights," PM Modi added.

Prime Minister stressed the importance of maritime security to boost global trade.

"Today, from international security to global trade, maritime security has emerged as a global priority," he said.

At the India Pavilion, Prime Minister unveiled HTT-40 - the indigenous trainer aircraft designed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). According to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), the aircraft has state of art contemporary systems and has been designed with pilot-friendly features.

During the programme, Prime Minister also launched Mission DefSpace - to develop innovative solutions for the Defence Forces in the Space domain through industry and start-ups. PM Modi said that Mission Defence Space will encourage innovation and strengthen our forces.

At the inauguration ceremony, PM Modi also laid the foundation stone of 52 Wing Air Force Station Deesa.

"After coming to the government, we decided to build an operational base in Deesa and this expectation of our forces is being fulfilled today. This area will now become an effective centre of security of the country," Prime Minister said.

This year's DefExpo is the first-ever edition exclusively for Indian companies. Indian companies, Indian subsidiaries of Foreign OEMs, Division of a company registered in India, and Exhibitor having a joint venture with an Indian company will be considered as Indian participants.

The DefExpo 2022 also marks the celebration of one year of the formation of the seven new defence companies, carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factory Board.

All these companies will participate in DefExpo for the first time. 451 partnerships in terms of MoUs, Transfer of Technology agreements and product launches, almost double than the last edition, are expected during the Bandhan ceremony on October 20.

The India Pavilion - a marque pavilion of the Department of Defence Production - will showcase the maturity of indigenous defence products, start-ups and the latest technology, including Artificial Intelligence in defence, while presenting India's vision for 2047.

In addition, there will be an exclusive Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) Pavilion to showcase the prowess of the country's start-ups carrying out R&D and innovation in futuristic technologies.

For the first time, States, Union Territories (UTs) have been invited to set up pavilions at the event. The Defence Minister has emphasised that with this new initiative, States, UTs will get an opportunity to participate in nation-building by attracting investment and bolstering their potential of indigenous aerospace and defence manufacturing.