View from India: Aerospace, defence spend and outer space

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region occupies a prominent place in the Aerospace and Defence (AD) sector. Estimated forecast indicates that the year-on-year spend in the APAC is expected to be the highest in the ongoing decade (2010-2020).

Within APAC, India has an important role to play as far as technology and R&D in the AD sector is concerned. India’s budgetary allocation towards defence and military is 2.4 per cent of the GDP.

“India is expected to spend around $70-72bn in the next 10-12 years on defence electronics. Around $53-54bn will go towards electronics spending as part of the platform,” said Sandeep Kapoor, country head, marketing & business development, Keysight Technologies, speaking at the Keysight Aerospace & Defence Symposium 2017, held in Bangalore.  

Globally, the size of the missile space is estimated to be $300bn by 2025. APAC constitutes 39 per cent of the global market share in the missile space which makes it a forerunner at a global level. Seen in the Indian context, the country forged a formal membership into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016. MTCR for India would help boost the country’s space programme. Coupled with this, the Government of India (GoI) has opened out new channels by permitting foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence.

“In the next two decades, India will require 1,850 new commercial aircrafts. India has become the fourth-largest market in commercial aerospace,” explained Kapoor. This can be attributed to the growing passenger demand in domestic routes, as well as the upcoming airports in several cities in India.

Clearly, software, hardware, algorithms and a combination of various processes are needed for ensuring that products are affordable. Design, prototyping, testing, assembly and operations are all meant to be precise and cost effective. A portfolio of software tools are required to accelerate the product development to ensure regulated and improved workflow in R&D. Test tools are also essential to ensure real-time testing for better outcomes.

“The focus is on building smaller and compact technologies that are capable of handling programmes in the military forces. Technology helps optimise costs and helps in real-time analysis,” Kapoor said. Keysight Technologies has a suite of offerings that also includes the industry’s first integrated 110GHz signal analyser. The company provides tools that help in real-time testing for product simulation, prototype and manufacturing. It also offers solutions for maintenance.

Another interesting aspect which came up for discussion at the symposium is that of NewSpace. This is an emerging global industry of private companies and entrepreneurs who primarily target commercial customers backed by risk capital seeking a return and profit from innovative products or services developed in or for space.

These are new commercial and profit-based business models that are literally opening out to the skies. Strictly speaking, space is an aero-engineering domain. Yet the idea is to demystify it to encourage people apart from the astronauts to look at the space odyssey.

At an international level, companies have come forward with space journeys. A case in point is Planetary Resources, which is working on asteroid mining. The company goes beyond the Earth to include asteroids, the Moon and Mars. Another example is Blue Origin, which develops spacecrafts.

These are examples of global companies that are trying to create a legacy of space explorers by creating space transportation options. One hopes to see similar companies in India in times to come.

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