In Make-in-India plan, US defence firms want control over technology

New Delhi, Sep 20: US defence firms offering to set up production lines in India to win deals worth billions of dollars want stronger assurances they won’t have to part with proprietary technology, according to a business lobby group’s letter to India’s Defence Minister.These companies are also saying they shouldn’t be held liable for defects in products manufactured in collaboration with local partners under PM Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India’s drive to build a military industrial base.

Lockheed Martin and Boeing are both bidding to supply combat jets to India’s military, which is running short of hundreds of aircraft as it retires Soviet-era MiG planes, and its own three-decade effort to produce a domestic jet is hobbled by delays.Lockheed has offered to shift its F-16 production line to India from Fort Worth, Texas, and make it the sole factory worldwide if India orders at least 100 single-engine fighters.

The US firm has picked Tata Advanced Systems as its local partner under the Defence Ministry’s new Strategic Partnership model under which foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can hold up to a 49 per cent stake in a joint venture with an Indian private firm, which will hold the majority of shares.

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) wrote to India’s Defence Minister last month seeking a guarantee that US firms would retain control over sensitive technology—even as joint venture junior partners.“Control of proprietary technologies is a major consideration for all companies exploring public and private defence partnerships,” the business lobby, which represents 400 firms, said in the August 3 letter.

“To allow foreign OEMs to provide the most advanced technologies, the partnership arrangement between an Indian owned ‘strategic partner’ company and a foreign OEM needs to provide an opportunity for the foreign OEM to retain control over its proprietary technology,” it said.Technology transfer is at the heart of Modi’s drive to build a domestic industrial base and cut a reliance on imports that has made India the biggest arms importer.

Source Tribune India