NEW DELHI, Jan 31 (AFP): Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee urged global arms makers Tuesday to enter joint military production ventures in India, as top companies showed off their latest hardware at an arms fair in New Delhi.
"This event showcases our capabilities to deliver military product at competitive prices and we wish to strike mutually beneficial arrangements with friendly countries," Mukherjee said, opening a four-day Defence Exposition.
Britain, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Russia and the United States are among 38 countries which have sent 420 of their leading arms manufacturers to the exposition.
India, which in 2004 emerged as Asia's largest arms importer, is known to be shopping for 126 fighter jets and missile protection systems.
Experts say the deals are worth more than eight billion dollars and that countries such as the US, Britain, Russia and Switzerland are leading contenders.
"Our defence production units have taken a market-friendly approach and offer an opportunity to bring in global technologies for joint production and export to third countries,' said Mukherjee, whose Congress party is credited with opening India's market to competition.
"And today, 100 per cent participation in Indian defence projects is possible," the defence minister said.
India generally allows only 26 per cent private equity in state-controlled sectors. But a 50-50 partnership between India and its largest military supplier Russia for the successful co-production of the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos marked a change in direction in the arms sector.