Indian government on Wednesday gave its go-ahead to the sale of Akash surface-to-air missile systems to friendly foreign countries and created a high-powered panel for swifter approval to export of military hardware at a time India has set a target of clocking defence exports worth $5 billion by 2024, officials said.
"So far, Indian defence exports included parts/components etc. The export of big platforms was minimal. This initiative of the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive," the defence ministry said in a statement announcing the decision.
The committee set up to speed up exports will have the defence minister, external affairs minister and the national security adviser on board.
The missile --- already in service in the Indian military --- has an indigenous content of 96%. The missile, which has a range of 25 km, was inducted into the Indian Air Force in 2014 and in the army a year later.
Officials said after its induction in the armed forces, several foreign countries had shown interest in the Akash missile during international and local defence exhibitions, and the Cabinet's approval would allow India to take part in tenders issued by various countries.
The export version of Akash will be different from the weapon system currently deployed by the Indian armed forces, the statement said without specifying the differences in configuration.
"Besides Akash, there is interest in other major platforms like coastal surveillance system, radars and air platforms," the statement said, adding that the high-powered panel had been created to provide faster approval for export of such platforms.
The committee will authorise the export of major indigenous platforms to various countries, apart from exploring various options including the government-to-government route to sell military hardware abroad, officials said.
"The Government of India intends to focus on exporting high value defence platforms to achieve a target of 5 Billion USD of defence export and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries," defence minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.