DefExpo begins tomorrow. An event that happens once in two years, this time it’s being held around a month later than usual.
And in an atmosphere, where a simmering conflict between the defense ministry and the army chief has boiled over, with talk of retired army generals acting as middlemen for defense companies (always a job considered in India to be lower than the oldest profession). Indeed, if past shows are any indicator, the venue will be full of retired defense personnel, some with Pretty Young Things in tow, air kissing old contacts. Although some will be there because of their employment by defense companies, there will be many others who will be there for reasons that will remain unclear.
The show is being held at a time when the defense ministry has blacklisted six defense companies for involvement in corruption (an issue that has more problems than are obvious: more on this later), at least three of whom had booked space at the exhibition. Two of them, Rheinmetall and Israel Military Industries (IMI) are going ahead with their presence at the show.
All of this, when the industry body, ASSOCHAM, has recommended the complete opening of the defense sector to international defense companies by allowing 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
And the delayed show also means some companies will not be making an appearance at all, most notably, the largest defense company in the world, Lockheed Martin.
But many others will be present and the show continues to attract more companies, if not countries. The defense ministry said in a statement on Monday, “A total of 567 companies from 32 countries will display weapon systems for the Army, Navy and Internal Security.” The last show had 412 exhibitors from 35 countries.
The 32 countries include Russia, France, Israel, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Poland, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Turkey, USA and the UK.
Unsurprisingly, India’s two largest defense suppliers are also the biggest exhibitors at the show. Israel has taken up the most space at the show with 1,293 square meters and Russia brings the largest number of companies to the show, with the count at 37.
Not a wonder, then, that the show will see over 60 official delegations, including 14 headed by defense ministers.
So let’s take a look at some of the companies present tomorrow and the products they plan to show off, at Dateline DefExpo on StratPost. And hope to see you there.