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Arms makers gather in India for Defence Expo 2014

As India looks ahead to significant military investment over the next decade, a wave of international defence equipment manufacturers have poured into the country's capital to show off their wares.

NEW DELHI: As India looks ahead to significant military investment over the next decade, a wave of international defence equipment manufacturers have poured into the country's capital to show off their wares.

New Delhi is hosting Defence Expo 2014 - which features more than 600 vendors keen for a piece of the action.

India's spending on weapons over the next 10 years is expected to peak at more than US$100 billion - the costly reality of maintaining geo-political security - with a vast maritime boundary - and security commitments along borders with China and Pakistan.

Over four days - New Delhi is playing a welcome host - in a showcase of India's land, naval and security capabilities

More than 600 companies from 30 countries have converged on the capital - a growing sign India is emerging as an attractive destination for investment in the defence sector.

South Korean arms companies are just one contingent with an eye on the Indian market, to try and sell their state-of-the-art weaponry and self-defence systems.

Y K Kim, president of Sunghan Corporation Ltd, said: "According to some staff of DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organisation), they are very much interested in nanotechnology because it's a new concept."

Considered one of Asia's biggest land and maritime shows, the defence event is taking place at a time when India has revised defence policy - to one that aims to “buy and make Indian”.

But that is not deterring international vendors.

Yong-wook Lee, director of D I Optical, said: "We would like to contribute to reinforce the Indian army. So, we are actually willing to propose our technical expertise."

Despite the positive signs for the country's defence industry, there are still hurdles.

India has put off a final agreement to buy 126 Rafale combat planes following a budget crunch.

A K Antony, India’s defence minister, said: "Negotiation is going on because of the shortage of money this financial year. Now it is only first week of February, we have already spent 92 percent of our capital budget. Only eight percent is left for the two months."

The minister said the US$15 billion deal with French makers Dassault Aviation is likely to be completed in the next fiscal year. 

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