On Saturday, defence shipbuilder Garden Reach Shipyard & Engineers will hand over to Mauritius a 1,300-tonne offshore patrol vessel named "Barracuda".
This $58-million (Rs 365 crore) vessel is the first warship ordered by a foreign country from an Indian shipyard.
Meanwhile, GRSE is bidding to build two frigates for the Philippines Navy, for an estimated Rs 1,000 crore each. If GRSE wins that order -- for which major global shipyards are bidding, including Navantia of Spain, STX of France and Korean majors, Hyundai and Daewoo -- it would be the first time a warship designed and built in India is selected in an international tender.
India has gifted several warships to smaller Indian Ocean countries such as Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius. It has sold used vessels, such as a Sukanya-class OPV that now serves as the Sri Lankan navy's flagship.
The GRSE is also finalising the design of a series of 140-tonne Fast Patrol Boats for the Vietnam Navy. New Delhi has offered a line of credit to Vietnam for that order.
Yet this is the first time an Indian shipyard has been commissioned to design and build a warship to specifications formulated by a buyer country. This marks an important first landmark in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's drive to increase defence exports.
According to figures tabled in Parliament on November 28, India's total defence exports were Rs 446.75 crore in 2012-13; Rs 686.27 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 166.67 crore this year, till September 2014. The export of the Barracuda would, therefore, be a significant success.
The need to support defence exports has been understood for some time, with the United Progressive Alliance government formulating a "Defence Exports Strategy" and simplifying the procedure for granting export sanctions.
The BJP's election manifesto in 2014 pledged: "We will encourage domestic industry to have a larger share in design and production of military hardware and platforms for both domestic use and exports, in a competitive environment."
Senior naval officers have long argued for exporting warships to friendly countries in the Indo-Pacific