India's First Naval and Maritime Expo: A Fair Success

The NAMEXPO had a grand start marked by the berthing of indigenous stealth frigate INS Satpura and a scintillating operational demonstration by marine commandos on the waterfront. The expo has enormous potential to grow as evidenced at Kochi; the only thing is it needs to be nurtured not just by the Indian Navy, but also the other stakeholders.

Issue: 5 / 2013By R. ChandrakanthPhoto(s): By ShinMaywa

The port city of Kochi recently hosted India’s first ever Naval and Maritime Exposition (NAMEXPO) 2013 and the ambitious event had a mixed response—some good, some not so good. That it was stretched from September 23 to 27 did not go well with the exhibitors as the first time response from visitors/delegations was kind of lukewarm. That some of the local bigwigs in naval and maritime industry (Cochin Shipyard, for instance) were not present as exhibitors raised many questions.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has announced that it would be a biennial event, but we hope that there would be more international participation, particularly from major countries such as the US and UK, which were conspicuous by their absence at Kochi. The Rosoboronexport Deputy Director General Viktor M. Komardin made a tongue-in-cheek remark: “Where are the other countries? See India and Russia are genetically friendly.” Besides companies, the lack of attendance by the Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who hails from Kerala, and the Naval Chief and other decisionmakers came as a dampener.

Be that as may be, the CII must be complimented for bringing this event at a time when the naval and maritime sector is fast opening up. The sessions which were mostly linked to modernisation of the Navy saw good attendance, indicating that both the Indian Navy and the industry are looking at how to make the best use of the opportunity.

Key Sponsor Saab Brings Spectrum of Products

Swedish aerospace and defence major, Saab, which was a key sponsor, presented a spectrum of naval products covering the air, surface, underwater and coastal security domains that provide naval forces complete command over the seas. Saab’s portfolio of products included the Sea Gripen, 9LV SAT, 9LV CMS, 9LV FCS, AUV 62 MR Spurt, Sea Giraffe, Saab 340 MSA, Naval training and AIS.

Saab India Country Chairperson Lars-Olof Lindgren said: “This event is a good forum for us to meet the relevant stakeholders in the naval domain. The main theme for Saab for this NAMEXPO is ‘Teaming Up With India’ on naval systems. We believe that partnership is the way forward to work in India and to be able to fully support the market.”

Commodore (Retd) Jagdish Anand, Senior Vice President-Domain of Saab India, said the company had brought to Kochi the latest of its products, understanding how keen India was on latest acquisitions. “Kochi is the nerve centre of naval training and we have had good audience.” As regards Saab’s offerings to the Indian market, he said: “We are very bullish though the Indian procurement process is ‘very slow’.”

Speaking on “Consortium and Dual Use Technology Approach towards development of Naval Weapons and Sensors” on the second day of NAMEXPO 2013, Peter Behrendt, Global Head, Business Development, Navy, Saab, made an extensive presentation on the kill chain solution based on the Visby Class Corvette that combines multiple Saab technologies including the Sea Giraffe radars, the 9LV FCS, the 9LV CMS, 9LV SAT and the Ceros 200.

Peter Behrendt emphasised on Saab’s approach to technology transfer and the theme of “Teaming up with Indian partners to create solutions for India”. According to Behrendt, Saab is open for technology transfer which acts as a platform for transferring capability to partners.

Tony Ogilvy, General Manager, Aeronautics and International Head, Sea Gripen Program (Saab), made a presentation on the upcoming naval version of the Gripen Fighter Aircraft. Ogilvy highlighted the importance of its small size and its operational versatility from both CATOBAR and STOBAR Carriers. Ogilvy emphasised the requirement of “active partners” for the development of Sea Gripen.

Rosoboronexport’s Strong Presence

Russia underscored how it was closely linked to India, both in terms of political and trade relationship. “We work closely with our Indian partners in the naval area and hope that the new specialised exhibition will be a good platform to showcase our capabilities. Today, India has set ambitious goals to strengthen the national naval forces and Russia, as its strategic ally, is ready to comprehensively cooperate to effectively implement these plans,” said Viktor Komardin.

“More than 70 warships have been built for India over 45 years of Russian-Indian cooperation in the naval sphere. Russia is providing assistance in designing and supplying systems and equipment for indigenously developed ships under construction in India. Among them are the Project 15A, 15B destroyers, Project 17 frigates and Project 71 aircraft carrier. In addition, Sevmash, part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC), is completing the trials of the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya.”

Regarding naval potential, he said the Russian companies were looking at deepening cooperation with India’s state and private manufacturers of naval equipment, in particular, the joint design and construction of new ships. Rosoboronexport was holding talks with its partners in South East Asia, where potential customers are showing interest in patrol boats and Project 22460E patrol ships, Gepard 3.9 class frigates, Bastion and Bal-E coastal defence missile systems, shipborne SAM and artillery systems, and anti-ship missiles.

Enterprises affiliated with USC – Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering, St. Petersburg-based Malakhit Marine Engineering Bureau and Sudoexport – as well as the Mars Research and Production Association and the Aquamarin Company displayed their products under the aegis of Rosoboronexport, part of the Rostec State Corporation.

Selex ES Debuts Miysis DIRCM

Selex ES, a Finmeccanica company, brought to Kochi Miysis DIRCM for the first time after its recent launch. Said to be the lightest countermeasure system in the world, the product provides all-round infrared countermeasure protection for large and small, rotary- and fixed-wing platforms. It is the latest generation of directed infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system from Selex ES and the company hopes to capture substantial market in the near future.

The company presented Seaspray 7000E and 7500E multi-mode surveillance radar which uses multiple low power, is solid state transmit/receive modules and makes them highly reliable. Selex also put on show the Picosar, compact, lightweight airborne ground surveillance radar with all-weather capability for unmanned aerial systems, fixed-wing and helicopter platforms.

Turkey’s Dearsan Shipyard

For the first time ever, Dearsan Shipyard was participating in an Indian exhibition only to “understand the Indian market”. Deniz Esrefoglu of Dearsan said “the visit has been a truly learning experience and we are keen on entering the Indian market which is huge, both in military and civil segments.”

Dearsan Shipyard has constructed and delivered numerous vessels including specialised and sophisticated vessels like naval combatants, mega yachts, tug boats and chemical tankers for leading companies in the world and the Turkish Navy. At the show, it presented Tuzla class patrol boats; fast intervention boats; fast passenger ferry; tug boats and oil/chemical tankers.

DRDO, L&T, BrahMos Showcase Products

The major exhibitors at the show were the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Larsen and Toubro (L&T) Engineering division, BrahMos Aerospace, Tata Power, GRSE, among others. The Kerala Minister for Ports K. Babu inaugurated the expo and Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command, who spoke at the inaugural said the country had no choice except to give impetus to indigenisation. Warship construction in the country had come a long way, meeting the requirements of the Navy. However, indigenisation must not be at the cost of critical technology, like propulsion systems.

The expo had a grand start marked by the berthing of indigenous stealth frigate INS Satpura and a scintillating operational demonstration by marine commandos on the waterfront. The expo has enormous potential to grow as evidenced at Kochi, the only thing is it needs to be nurtured not just by the Indian Navy, but also the other stakeholders.