A delegation of the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers visited Washington and interacted with US govt officials

A US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber and an Indian Air Force (IAF) light combat aircraft Tejas fly during the inauguration of Aero India 2021, Air Show at Yelahanka Air Force Station, in Bangalore

The Indian industry is gearing up to explore opportunities to become a part of the US defence supply chain following a discussion the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) delegation had with representatives of the Biden administration and industrial association during their recent Washington trip.

The move assumes significance since the two countries are supposed to announce a new defence dialogue later this year — a fact that emerged from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s last month meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on bilateral defence industrial cooperation.

The visiting delegation, led by Neeraj Gupta, Chairman of SIDM International and Exports Committee and Managing Director of MKU Ltd, had roundtable discussions including on India-US Technology collaboration and with US India Business Council (USIBC) to explore the scope Indian industry can have in the US defence supply chain, said the Society in a statement.

The SIDM now has to identify key areas of cooperation with their US counterpart for research, development, and manufacturing military capabilities, said sources.

Participating Companies

The maiden SIDM delegation of eight companies — MKU Ltd, Idea Forge Technologies Pvt Ltd, Larsen and Toubro, Investments and Precisions Castings Ltd, Newspace Research & Technologies Pvt Ltd, Rossell Techsys, Abhyuday Bharat Projects Pvt Ltd and Delta Combat Systems Pvt Ltd — were in the US for five days from September 19.

Chairman Neeraj Gupta said, “Our interactions with the US Department of Défense, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Defence Industrial Association highlighted immense potential for our industries to collaborate. SIDM will be working with these stakeholders to make sure our bilateral defence trade grows in the next few years.”

Tapping Opportunities For All

A few indigenous defence companies are already part of the global supply chain. The SIDM, though, is pushing for stretching the opportunities to other Indian companies including MSMEs given that the National Defence Industrial Association (NDIA) represents 1,800 US military firms.

During their various engagements, the SIDM stated that the delegation was accorded due importance by US government officials as well as by industry representatives.

In March 2022, Jesse Salazar Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Industrial Policy held an interaction with SIDM to lay out US DOD priorities vis-à-vis Indian Industry.

The SIDM said its delegation also visited Boeing Headquarters in Washington DC, Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing which primarily specialises in the design and construction of special-purpose unmanned aerial vehicles, Centre for a New American Security and Fairfax County Economic Development Authority.