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Defence Expo to be inaugurated by Prime Minister

GANDHINAGAR (PTI):  The scale of upcoming Defence Expo, to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, will be much bigger than the last time and the government expects to sign more than 400 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to bring investment in the upwards of Rs 1.25 lakh crore, officials have said.

The Defence Expo (DefExpo 2022) will be held in Gandhinagar from October 18 to 22.

"This 12th edition of Defence Expo will be the biggest in the country, with its theme being 'Path to Pride'. It will showcase our commitment to become atmanirbhar (self-reliant) in defence production. It will be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on October 19," Defence secretary Dr Ajay Kumar said.

"The scale of this Defence Expo will be bigger than any previous such event in the country. So far, 400 MoUs have been finalized to be signed during the expo, which will bring in investment of Rs 1.25 lakh crore. This investment commitment and number of MoUs are double than agreements signed in the last expo," Kumar said.

He said companies of Gujarat will sign 33 MoUs, which is expected to bring in investment of more than Rs 5,500 crore in the state, adding more than 1,320 defence companies will participate in the expo, which is being held over an area of one lakh square metres.

Some 1,028 firms had participated in the last defence expo, while the current edition will have defence ministers of 25 countries and delegates from 75 nations, the senior bureaucrat added.

"Three things will be the highlights of the expo. The indigenously designed and developed trainer aircraft by HAL will be showcased for the first time in the expo, the newly developed air base at Deesa in Gujarat will be virtually inaugurated and 75 challenges for defence productions will be opened up for start-ups and industries," he said.

Additional Secretary (Defence Production) Sanjay Jaju said the India-Africa Defence Dialogue, which will see participation from more than 50 African countries, will be held in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

A separate Indian Ocean Region plus (IOR+) conclave, where representatives from approximately 40 countries will be present, will be organised as well, he said.

Queried on China's participation in the conclave, Jaju said Beijing was not a party to IOR plus.

"Invitations have been extended to defence ministers of countries participating in India-Africa Defence Dialogue and IOR plus conclave, Jaju said when asked if defence ministers of Russia and Ukraine, currently at war, will participate in the twin events.

In reply to a question on funds for modernization of the country's Armed forces, Defence Secretary Kumar said, "Enough funds are available for modernization of the inventory of armed forces." The DefExpo 2022 will mark the celebration of one year of the formation of the seven new defence companies, carved out of the erstwhile Ordnance Factories, all of which will be taking part in the mega event for the first time.

The India Pavilion, a marque pavilion of the Department of Defence Production, will showcase the maturity of indigenous defence products, start-ups, latest technology, including Artificial Intelligence in defence, and will present India's vision for 2047.

For the first time, 10 states and Union territories will set up pavilions at the event, officials said.

During the 5-day event, the first three days will be exclusive for business, while October 21 and 22 will be for members of the general public.

The expo could not be organised twice, firstly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then due to the Russia-Ukraine war, they said.

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