Aerospace & Defense - The Current Scenario in India & Future Prospects

Aerospace & Defense - The Current Scenario in India & Future Prospects

Holding a bachelor’s degree in Electrical & Electronics and a master’s degree in Biological Sciences from BITS Pilani, Baskar has also completed his MS degree in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining National Instruments in 1997, he held the role of Director at Apna Group of Companies and even incepted two companies - The Ark Marine Solutions and Apna Technologies & Solutions. Siliconindia recently had an opportunity to interact with Baskar Ceri, Global Director - Business Development (Aerospace, Defense & Govt. Business Unit), National Instruments, wherein he shared his insights on the current aerospace & defense industry in India and various other related aspects. Below are a few select parts from the exclusive interview

How do you see the aerospace & defense industry in India currently?

Currently standing at around $70 billion and on a constant growth trajectory, the Indian aerospace & defense industry is at a very pivotal point today. By launching various initiatives such as Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat, having stringent regulations on the percent of work that must be mandatorily done in India, and making it a norm to use only local-made components in a few areas, the government is putting-in a lot of efforts to improve the aerospace & defense manufacturing space in India today. Although a majority of the total market share is occupied foreign companies, Indian business too have shown significant growth in recent times by leveraging various factors such as local market knowledge, government incentive programs and many others. Realizing the massive potential that Indian businesses possess today, many multinational corporates are forming JVs and partnerships with Indian aerospace & defense companies to address the market demand and play an active part in our government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. As a result, the government has been the primary growth driver for aerospace and defense industry in India today.

Briefly explain the impact of modern day technologies on the aerospace & defense space.

Today, although the data transfer has now become incredibly easy, it still is a very complicated matter when it comes to aerospace & defense due to huge number of sensors that are involved in an aircraft. As a result, bringing together all the data to derive meaningful insights is a challenging task. Sensor fusion technology has been a true lifesaver in this regard by enabling us to seamlessly integrate data from all touchpoints. Artificial Intelligence is another technology that is creating massive ripples in the aerospace & defense space lately. Today, most of user systems in the next generation aircrafts today are AI integrated, wherein all the sensory data of the aircraft can be made accessible to pilot in his helmet alone. This has eased the pilots’ task of paying close attention to the huge number of readings of the aircraft. Another key use case of AI in the aerospace & defense space is simulation of various battle scenarios. Lastly, with the ongoing global environmental crisis, organizations across all industries are working hard towards keeping carbon emissions to the bare minimum, and aerospace & defense sector is no different. Today, there has been a lot off research that is being conducted in the development of electric aircrafts, and I personally feel that this will be one of the biggest tech disruptions in the industry in recent times.

What is the role of the government and policymakers to encourage more startups to foray into the aerospace & defense space?

While startups have done really well in software and many others areas, Indian startups fall a tad short when it comes it aerospace & defense since it is a combination of software and hardware. Currently, our country still lags behind in building IPs that are a combination of both hardware and software. That I believe will be the next avenue for of growth for India in the coming days. However, there is a lot of scope for improvement for the Indian aerospace & defense space in terms of the availability of funds and the government regulations. Most of the government initiatives such as Startup India and other accelerator programs are currently focusing majorly on the software space. But going forward, this focus needs to be broadened to include other verticals as well, especially the hardware components segment.

Also, since the end customer for aerospace & defense companies most of the times is the government, it is important to have an efficient and business-friendly payment system in place to ensure hassle-free transaction between the two parties. Lastly, the government must bring-in a lot of changes in terms of regulatory policies for business registration, tax slabs, interest rates for working capital loans and many others for SMBs operating in this space. This will encourage the SMBs to innovate more freely and add more fuel to the country’s aerospace & defense sector.

How do you expect the industry to evolve in the days to come?

Lately, the government is laying strong emphasis on indigenous manufacturing of various components such semiconductor chips as part of its ambitious ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative that is aimed at our country becoming a self-reliant nation. Since most of these niche tech components will be used in developing aircrafts within our country itself, there exist massive scope of opportunities for the sector in the near future. However, the government must take the necessary steps to improve the number of IPs that are being filed in the aerospace & defense space from the private sector. Additionally, encouraging private-public partnerships and JVs will go a long way in nourishing the R&D and innovation in the aerospace & defense space.