Bengaluru: With the massive increase in the 2021-22 Budget allocation for Defence, many private players in the aerospace and defence sector with units in Bengaluru are planning expansion in the coming months, as there is likely to be increasing demand from multinational aviation giants.
“We are the leading exporter of aero-structures in India. We are expanding in Bengaluru as we are growing with a good mix of orders from both civilian and defence aircraft manufacturers,” said Udayant Malhoutra, chief executive at Dynamatic Technologies, a listed company that counts Airbus, Boeing, Bell Helicopter and Hindustan Aeronautics among its customers.
Typically, large aero-structures are assembled close to the aircraft manufacturing facility, with smaller parts outsourced to low-cost countries, but his assembly unit is located near Bengaluru airport due to the availability of talented artisanal labour in the vicinity at reasonable wages. “We have conjoined the UK and Bengaluru plants and married the low cost of capital in the UK with a low-cost skilled workforce in Bengaluru,” Malhoutra added.
Thyssenkrupp Aerospace had plans to expand its operations in Bengaluru last year, but delayed it after the Covid-19 outbreak. Its country head Gopi Hanumanthappa, however, said the company’s commitment to India remained high. The German multinational has an aerospace and defence materials facility near the aerospace park in Bengaluru.
There are about 2,000 small and medium enterprises operating in the sector in Karnataka which accounts for 70 per cent of total supplier base of India, said Gunjan Krishna, the state’s commissioner for industrial development. “Our policies in aerospace, engineering R&D and electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) sectors are the best in the country. Bengaluru ranks third in FDI in aerospace, and the only Indian city in the global top 10.”
NoPo Nanotechnologies, a Bengaluru-based R&D startup that makes carbon nanotube desalination membranes for the Indian Navy, said it would go for funding, expand its operations and hire more workers in the next two-three years as demand for its products was growing. “Having been in this industry for about 10 years, I can say that Karnataka is well-poised for the defence industry,” co-founder Gadhadar Reddy said.
Technology application is going to impact the defence sector strongly in the coming days, and since Bengaluru already has a strong tech culture, the state should identify areas in the Bengaluru-Mysuru or Tumakuru-Chitradurga region, and position itself as a strong player in the aviation R&D, said Subhash Chandra, former secretary of defence production.
According to him, there is a huge opportunity waiting to be tapped with the announcement of the LCA project and the expected Cabinet clearances for HAL LCH, and the C-295 transport aircraft by Tata-Airbus. “We have to leverage the advantages of Bengaluru, identify core sectors and push strongly for it,” he added.