It is ‘Made in America First’ versus ‘Make in India’ at Aero India 2017

It is ‘Made in America First’ versus ‘Make in India’ at Aero India 2017 Before US President Donald Trump’s first call, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. promised to build plants in India if the world's biggest arms importer chose their fighter jets and weapons.

This week, in Bengaluru, will be a test for that promise as two most biggest US defense contractors, Russia's MiG Corp. and Europe's Airbus SE will be lining up to display their wares at an air show.

Not only they will compete for deals, they will be constantly stretched between Trump's push for companies to keep jobs in the US.

"All of us in Washington are guessing where Trump is going to land on these issues. He has certainly been very clear in his tweets and direct outreach to American companies that he wants to try to ensure that people don't move production facilities and try to retain jobs in the U.S., "said Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Manohar Parrikar, Indian Defence Minister will be using the airshow to outline Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to boost the domestic defense industry by giving contracts to local companies, as well as asking foreign manufacturers to tie up with Indian firms, according to people familiar with the plan who are not authorized to speak publicly about it.


Modi's promise to shell out $250 billion in the coming years on fighter jets, submarines, howitzers and helmets to modernize his armed forces came with one call -- Make in India. Sensing an opportunity, local conglomerates Tata Group, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and Larsen & Toubro Ltd. have expanded more into the defense sector and formed joint ventures with international manufacturers.

India, which has traditionally relied on Russia and the former SoviUnion for fighter jets, is increasingly warming to the US. In his first phone conversation with Parrikar, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis committed to build upon the "tremendous progress in bilateral defense cooperation made in recent years," a Pentagon spokesman said last week.

Modi's domestic manufacturing program is a centerpiece of his economic policy that seeks to boost manufacturing to 25 percent of gross domestic product by 2022 from 18 percent now, and aims to avoid dependence on foreign equipment, particularly in times of war.