NEW DELHI: Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence Ltd has signed a strategic partnership agreement with state-owned Ukroboronprom of Ukraine, allowing the firm to collaborate with aircraft manufacturing firm Antonov State Co. for its range of military and commercial transport aircraft.
Under the agreement, Reliance Defence and Antonov will jointly bid for the medium military transport aircraft program of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
“In addition to this, the two companies will also collaborate for assembly, manufacture and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of Antonov series of aircraft to address the requirements of the Indian market and also the agreed global markets,” Reliance Defence said in a statement on Friday.
Antonov is credited as the manufacturer of the largest transport aircraft in the world. The Indian Air Force currently operates more than 100 AN-32 aircraft, which forms the backbone of its transport fleet.
This agreement follows a meeting between Anil Ambani, chairman Reliance Group with the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on April 28 in Ukraine.
“Cooperation between Reliance Defence and Spetstechno Exports (foreign trade enterprise of Ukraine) will focus on upgrade programs for the BMP 2 (amphibious infantry fighting vehicle) and armored vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and marine gas turbines for the Indian Navy Frigate program,” the statement said.
It is understood that HAL is looking at a market size of up to 300 aircraft in the medium range, the statement noted.
Reliance Defence said the combined value of programs shortlisted for cooperation will exceed Rs.50,000 crore [$7.52 billion].
On 4 November, the R-Infra board said that new high-growth opportunities in defense, arising from the Make in India and Skill India policies, serve vital national priorities and have several attractive features. The board said these include relatively low capital intensity, a lower gestation period, minimal regulatory uncertainties, higher job creation and the potential for better return on equity.
The Make in India initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Sept. 2014 aims to promote the manufacturing sector, and increase the contribution of manufacturing output to 25 percent of the gross domestic product or GDP. The defense sector is prominent among the 25 sectors of industry covered under the initiative.
Companies such as Bharat Forge Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd, the Tata Group, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, the Godrej Group and the Mahindra Group are entrenched in the business and are looking for more opportunities.
Meanwhile, Ambani’s Reliance Group and Adani Group’s Adani Defence Systems and Technologies Ltd are the new entrants.
Reliance Group firms have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over an Oct. 2, 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case. TNS