Number of weapons manufacturers who will participate in the Defexpo this year has dipped sharply as compared to the last time it was held.
Compared to over 1000 participants last time, the Defexpo 2018 will only see 671 manufacturers this year. The Defexpo is biggest biannual exhibition in India that showcases naval and land-based weapons systems manufactured by Indian and foreign weapon makers.
Defexpo 2018 will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 13.
The number of participants in Defexpo is an indication of the interest that manufacturers have for the Indian defence market. India is one of biggest importer of weapons and defence platforms.
“Participation of foreign defence manufacturers have dipped by at least 10 per cent,” Additional Secretary Defence Production Subash Chandra said.
Compared to 490 foreign companies that participated in Defexpo 2016 only 154 companies are participating this year.
There is a silver lining however; participation of Indian manufacturers has gone up.
“Nearly 15 per cent of the total exhibition space has been booked by Medium and Small Manufacturing Enterprises,” Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence Production said.
The dip in exhibitors at Defexpo 2018 comes at a time when it almost clear that government is unlikely to go in for any big ticket weapons system acquisition.
With Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, the government is reluctant to get drawn into a controversy over weapon system purchases.