India to bid for $3.5 bln defence deals

The defence systems unit of India’s top vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra) will bid for domestic defence projects worth $3.5 billion over the next seven years, its chief executive said.
“Most of them (projects) will come from artillery systems and armoured vehicles,” Khutub A. Hai, head of Mahindra Defence Systems, India’s largest manufacturer of armoured vehicles, told Reuters in an interview.
His firm hopes to ramp up revenues to $430 million by 2016 through joint ventures from the current $21.7 million, Hai said in New Delhi.
“By 2016, we are targeting a turnover of 20 billion rupees and I think even the world realises that the next big market, as far as defence is concerned, is India,” Hai said.
Mahindra has spun off its defence business into mainly two fully-held units focusing on land and naval systems.
The land systems business has federal government’s approval for a joint venture with BAE Systems that will take effect from Dec 1 with an initial investment of $21.7 million, Hai said.
The company plans to design and co-develop mine protection vehicles along with BAE Systems.
“We will be showing it to paramilitary forces and showcasing it at defence-expos,” Hai said.
The firm is also looking at acquisitions to grow its defence market share and participate in offset projects with foreign companies.
Indian defence companies will gain access to a potential $100 billion market over the next 10 years, following a new policy that was announced last month allowing domestic firms to bid for large defence contracts.
India, one of the world’s biggest arms importers, wants to increase the role of its private sector which accounts for around one-fifth of the industry market share.
“As our economy grows, there will be no problems as far as money is concerned and we are now talking about best-of-the-line defence equipment,” Hai said.