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India to export LCA soon: Fernandes

By BS Bureau in Kolkata
September 15, 2003 11:16 IST
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India would commence export of Light Combat Aircraft being manufactured in the country four to five years from now.

Addressing a press conference today in the city, defence minister George Fernandes said, "India would attain the status of exporting the indigenously built LCA to friendly countries in another four to five years as the country has made rapid strides in developing the state-of-the-art aircraft.

"I am looking forward to LCA's being sent to friendly countries; I am looking forward to a global market. It will take another four or five years," Fernandes said.

He was in town to inaugurate a three-day workshop on 'How to do business with Defence' dedicated to SSI units of the eastern region orgnaised jointly by the Indian Council of Small Industries.

Stating that major emphasis has been laid on indigenisation in the defence sector, Fernandes pointed out that designing of the aircraft carrier to be built at the Cochin yard of the shipping ministry was already over and work would begin very soon.

The carrier being built would be capable of accommodating a dozen fighter aircraft. An air defence ship is also being designed to suit the naval requirements, he added.

The minister also said that as much as 40 per cent of the requirement could be sourced from SSIs for these crafts and carriers. Fernandes asked SSI units to try and move out of the state for procuring orders because east lacked large defense manufacturing units.

To a question on when the carrier would be ready, the defence minister said:" It will take some time, but I can assure you it wouldn't take a very long time."

Fernandes, who ducked a query on how the government plans to finance the Advanced Jet Trainer deal with British Aerospace, clarified that the first lot of these training aircraft would touch the Indian shore after three years while the training of the pilots would start immediately after the government signs the deal.

The defence minister who declined to comment on whether India would ultimately send troops to Iraq following the UN resolution in this regard, took pains to say that it is futile to seek any political motive behind India's move to go ahead with joint military exercise with the United States.

"India earlier held joint exercises with various countries in Asia and European now we're holding with the US. It's a sign of getting to know each other's strengths and weakness. There is no political motive in it," he observed.

Asked for his reaction on China refusing to admit Sikkim as part of India even after the 'successful' visit of the prime minister, Fernandes went on the defensive, saying that he was "not privy to what the Chinese government said. Whatever was discussed during the prime minister's visit there, it's part of the record and we will go by that."
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