Drone Sector Flourished In Modi’s Tenure Like Never Before, Says Kadet Defence Systems CEO Avdhesh Khaitan

The Bengaluru-based company is also among the few companies exporting high-performance aerial targets for air defence in other countries from India as a part of its international business. 
Avdhesh Khaitan, co-founder and CEO
Avdhesh Khaitan, co-founder and CEO

Kadet Defence Systems, an India-based aerospace company, is committed to both building for India and manufacturing within the country. This aligns with the "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" and "Make in India" initiatives, as the company focuses on enhancing India's defence capabilities by building for the Indian Armed Forces. In an exclusive interview with Outlook Business, the co-founder and CEO praised the government, awarding it five stars for its progress in the space tech sector. 

Edited excerpts 

What are your key focus areas as you build the country’s defence? 

Over the years, we’ve been the pioneers of many major tech integrations in defence. We started off by doing aerial targets for air defence training for the military, and now we have introduced the country’s first loitering aerial munitions (LAM) for the armed forces in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). 

What separates us from the others is that we have our own designing and manufacturing units in India, and the testing is also done by us in India. We want to stay committed to having an integration of at least 80 per cent indigenously made products that we are building for the armed forces.

Read: Drone Major ideaForge Looking To Expand its Share on the Civil Side and in International Markets 

Are you also catering to civil customers, since a lot of your equipment’s multiple uses 

Our primary focus has always been catering to the defence services and the government. However, our equipment’s dual-use nature. So, one can use it for dropping explosive payloads at the same time. One can also drop seed bombs for seeding and replanting for reforestation. 

Till now, our focus has primarily been defence and homeland security. But now that the equipment's coming online, we would be able to expand and extend our reach to logistics, primarily mid-mile logistics that would basically include deliveries, surveys, mapping, or anything that requires an aerial platform like aerial photography. So, anything that requires an aerial platform is an area that we would be able to address, and that would really expand our total addressable market. 

How has your international expansion been so far in terms of business? 

We are one of the very first companies to export high-performance aerial targets for air defence out of India. We've exported our equipment to several countries in the world, primarily in Southeast Asia and Europe. Since defence has been on the PM’s mandate itself, we expect that there's going to be a significant push for defence exports in the 3rd term for loitering munition as well, as that's our primary focus area. 

Read: As Modi 3.0 Comes To Power, Here Is What Start-Ups Demand For

What kind of support are you expecting from the new Modi 3.0 government for the space tech sector? 

Let me first give a thumbs up to the Modi government for boosting up the drone sector in the past 10 years like never before. They have focused on it really well, and it was sort of non-existent before. The impact being that we are seeing so many newcomers and start-ups coming forward and experimenting to build products for the defence of the country. 

I think the Prime Minister himself emphasised the importance of this sector, and major PLI schemes such as the incentive of Rs 120 crore spread over 3 years of financial years for indigenous drone manufacturing are a great boost to the industry. I’m sure the new government . can work on further coming up with rules and regulations to make it a very conducive environment for the operations of drones in India. 

What are your upcoming plans for the next 5 years in terms of business development? 

We have been working depending on the different requirements and concepts of operations of the armed forces. Currently, we have a contract for the delivery of over 50 LAMs by the end of 2024. 

We developed our systems with a family concept and interoperability in mind, ensuring they can withstand India's harsh environmental conditions, from high-altitude operations to deserts. This robustness makes our products suitable for export worldwide, as they are designed to perform in extreme environments like above 20,000 feet and in the desert at over 50 °C. We expect to be able to build 3,000 systems in the coming years and increase our inventory for the armed forces. 

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