Like many fast-growing aviation markets, India aspires to have an aerospace infrastructure to match its status as a customer for Western-built airliners and military aircraft.
In the cover story of the 2-9 February issue of Flight International, Siva Govindasamy looks at just how big that challenge is.
Formal and informal offset has been the traditional way customers of foreign-built defence equipment (and occasionally civil airliners) have used their spending power to boost their industry. At its crudest, a western manufacturer will simply buy a factory or its products (it could be timber or tin cans) in exchange for a contract. A more sophisticated form is for the government to channel investment into large state-run aerospace and defence manufacturers, whether through supplier contracts, aftermarket agreements or joint ventures to assemble aircraft.
All well and good, but this form of direct offset often leads to horrendous inefficiency, stripping away any competitive elements and handing contracts to favoured, often nationalised local manufacturers.
In India's case, Hindustan Aeronautics has ended up as the recipient of most government contracts in the aerospace field. The company, reports Siva, comes across more as a division of the Indian civil service with legions of pen-pushers and forms in triplicate, than a modern manufacturing company able to compete in a global market. It is an impression the company's relatively new chief executive is keen to change. Find out how in this week's issue.