Saturday, April 10, 2010

IAF wants national policy on aerospace technology

Bangalore, April 10 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) has called for a national policy on aerospace technology to achieve self-reliance in producing indigenous aircraft and support systems for military and civilian operations, a senior official said Saturday.
'It's high time a national policy on aerospace technology is put on a fast track to achieve self-reliance in the sector and scale up manufacturing various types of aircraft for military and civilian operations, with greater involvement of the private sector,' IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora said here at a national convention on aeronautical technologies.
Regretting that India missed out in developing middle level technologies post-independence, Barbora said though the manufacturing sector was able to produce a passenger car (Landmaster/Ambassador) in 1960s and achieved near self-reliance in space technology in the subsequent decades, the absence of any development in the aerospace industry had created a void.
'Though we are a major economic power to reckon with in South Asia, we have not leveraged it to bargain for greater access to aerospace technologies or attracting overseas investment through joint ventures to develop our state-run or private industry,' Barbora told about 700 delegates participating in the two-day convention.
The event, Frontiers of Aeronautical Technologies, is organised by the Aeronautical Society of India (ASI).
Noting that there was no dearth of brains to achieve self-reliance in aerospace technologies and aviation operations, the officer said the government should invest in research and development (R&D) and manufacturing by the private sector as it had been doing for the defence public sector undertakings.
'The role of aerospace industry is not limited to meeting defence needs but to civilian applications (also) as the aviation sector plays a vital role in the economic growth of the country. While China produced an entire Airbus, some of our state-run firms like Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) supply only doors or under carriage for passenger jets,' Barbora lamented.
Pointing out that indigenisation was not happening at the pace it should have for speeding up self-reliance, Barbora said the country was lagging behind in completing projects like the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) or Kaveri engine even two decades after they were taken up.
'The government must encourage the private sector by assuring firm orders to recover investments made in developing the technologies and products. Ban on defence exports by the private sector should be lifted to ensure the industry attracts more entrepreneurs, explore joint ventures with overseas firms and secure technology transfers,' Barbora pointed out.
Admitting developing sophisticated aerospace technologies takes longer time, Barbora said a sound national policy would enable the stakeholders to work in a time frame and deliver the equipment required for the armed forces, especially the IAF, which was spending billions of dollars in buying aircraft and spare parts from global aerospace majors.
'If we don't produce in time, others will take advantage of our delays and sell their products to us. The Indian aerospace industry should not only produce for defence and civil aviation sectors, but also to export,' Barbora said, adding Pakistan exports more than India does.


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