• Toby Irwin

GKN Aerospace opens facility in India

Today, the 4th of December, is the set date for British firm GKN Aerospace to formally open its new wiring facility in Pune, India. The facility is officially designed for Electrical Wiring Interconnection Systems (EWIS). Systems will focus on aero-engines for the likes of the Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737, 777x and Boeing 787. The opening of the facility notes two things chiefly to myself, that i'd like to reflect on.

First, one might note this facility as a reflection of India's growing defence and aerospace industry. A number of things are necessary for a sophisticated, modern defence industry. In order to produce top products, whether the designs are imported or not, needs a strong funding base, established manufacturing-industrial foundations and a well controlled organisational structure controlling operations from above. Investment such as this from Western firms allows the first two of the criteria to be met (at least to a degree). This is of particular note since wiring system facilities are what is known as 'dual-use', where the technologies being produced can be used in both civilian and military sectors. As GKN noted, "The Pune facility will operate alongside the existing Joint Venture for wiring systems in Bangalore, which is serving the defence market."

Secondly, the establishment of a British firm's facility in India shows how transnational defence production has become. Since the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War, firms have had to adapt to collapsing defence budgets and one way to do this was by merging and internationalising. This coincides with a great increase in costs of production for defence and aerospace technologies since the onset of the IT-RMA (Information Technology-Revolution in Military Affairs). Going off this one example, GKN also owns among others Japanese manufacturer Tochigi Fuji Sangyo K.K and the US Monitor Aerospace Group. Further, evidence exists in the very fact the main aircraft this facility will be servicing are US (Boeing) and European (Airbus).

Whether India will be able to transition to a truly self-sufficient, 'autarkic' defence industry is a matter of serious debate. While some note its rapidly increasing economy and capabilities, others point to the fact that even the US is having to internationalise and merge its firms. This suggests that even the world's top economy and superpower cannot maintain pure self-sufficiency, and by extension the trend of transnational firm expansions seems likely to continue.



Photo Courtesy of GKN Aerospace

At the time of writing, Toby Irwin is a third year student at the University of St Andrews. He is studying International Relations. Areas that interest him the most are UK foreign policy and the defence/aerospace industry.

The student project covering international relations and foreign affairs


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