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‘No Challenge Is Too Big’

Bharat Malkani, chairman of Max Aerospace & Aviation talks to BW Businessworld about the company’s future plans

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Bharat Malkani, chairman of Max Aerospace & Aviation talks to BW Businessworld about the company’s future plans. Edited excerpts:

On India as a producing base...
India is a strong contender for manufacturing any weapon system. However, one must be fully aware of our shortcomings. There are not enough companies with the requisite quality procedures in place that can successfully migrate from manufacturing of non-defence items to weapon systems. Processes need to be improved and procurement procedures of the Ministry of Defence must be made in a manner to encourage local production.

Also, there has been too much dependence on the DPSU’s for the better parts of weapons acquisition. These philosophies have yielded poor products and a system riddled with holes. Most of the DPSU’s have become conduits for foreign products and this is causing an unhealthy competition for Indian private sector companies.

On Make in India...
Make in India is a right plan but needs a wholesome approach. Nothing short of depriving the DPSU’s of any new programmes, JVs, orders will allow Make in India to succeed. Given the advances already to the DPSU’s based on the report of the CAG, the government ought to demand the products that are to be delivered before allowing any new orders to be places. Failure to do this will be failure of the Make in India programme.

On India seeking to boost arms exports 20-fold in a decade to $3 bn...
Max Aerospace & Aviation (Max Aerospace) is India’s premier defence manufacturing company. In the past, we have produced a substantial amount of parts and systems for airborne use. We see ourselves growing at a high double-digit rates as the Indian government matures and allows for export of our products. We will be India’s finest exporter of aircraft systems, airborne smart weapons and niche small arms and ammunition.

Whether the private sector can pick a 25 per cent share of defence production?

Unless the private sector is allowed to pick a minimum of 75 per cent share of the Defence production, we are unlikely to see major success on the horizon. In the West, the private sector contribution to the defence production is 100 per cent for most advanced nations. Twenty five per cent will be woefully inadequate with the current eco-system that we operate in India.

On products in the pipeline...

We have a number of partnerships in place with foreign manufacturers and service providers like small arms and ammunition; guided munitions; airborne weapon and electronic warfare systems; maintenance and overhaul of manned and unmanned aircraft.

On the company’s business targets...
Max Aerospace will be India’s most advanced smart weapon producing company within a span of 10 years.

On the roadblocks that you are facing...

The only roadblocks we face is the historical lack of confidence of our government in our abilities as Indian companies. We are one of the world’s the largest producer of engineers, doctors, scientists and other human capital. No challenge is too high.

suman@businessworld.in