US firms to tap homeland security market in India

While defence and military aviation deals will be at the head of the business table at Aero India 2011, set to begin here next week, companies from the United States, following growing strategic India-US co-operation in recent times, will also be making an aggressive push for a piece of a projected $10 billion homeland security market in India over the next three years.

Like in the case of Aero India 2009, which occurred in the backdrop of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, the US-India Business Council has its agenda spelt out this week for the premier air show and has outlined exploration of business prospects in the homeland security market as key agenda.

The US business focus on the homeland security market in India comes in the light of close collaboration on homeland security between the two countries in the post 26/11 scenario through a Strategic Dialogue and a Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism (CTJWG).

The homeland security component “will focus on translating policy cooperation and goodwill between the two countries into business opportunities and export growth for US companies,” says the USIBC.

Over the next three years, India is expected to procure more than $10 billion in state-of-the-art commercial and homeland security technology products, solutions, and services for border protection, marine security, counter insurgency, city surveillance, intelligence infrastructure, and other critical security infrastructure needs,” says the business council.

Increased investment in homeland security equipment has been evident with state police forces purchasing equipment like state-of-the-art bomb disposal vehicles, wireless surveillance systems, advanced firearms and night vision equipment in the post 26/11 scenario around the country.

Among other interesting areas in the USIBC agenda for Aero India 2011 is a workshop in collaboration with the Indian ministry of defence to fathom the defence offset policy following the recent issuance of a revised defence procurement procedure by the MoD.

The workshop comes in the light of US and European defence manufacturers writing “an unprecedented letter to the Indian MoD in August 2010, suggesting reforms in key areas of India’s defense offsets policy”.

According to the USIBC its priority at Aero India would be to build on the goodwill from US President Barack Obama’s visit to India last November and “to focus on discrete, achievable advocacy priorities in advance of a busy bilateral dialogue agenda for 2011”.

The bilateral agenda for the first half of 2011 includes meetings of the High Technology Cooperation Group, Defense Procurement and Production Group and the US-India Strategic Dialogue.

The US delegation at Aero India will feature apart from US ambassador Timothy Roemer, commerce secretary Gary Locke and the director of the US defence security co-operation agency, Vice Admiral William E Landay.

The US will, like at the last edition, have the largest number of military aircraft on display at Aero India 2011 with five F-16IN Super Vipers, two F/A-l81N Super Hornet; one C-17, one1 KC 135 one WC130J Weatherbird, one 707 Omega, and a fifth generation fighter the F-22 Raptor on static display.

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