French company Safran is working closely with the government to provide ultra-modern security solutions, especially for the defence sector

When your Aadhaar card details are verified by any of the government departments using a state-of-the-art biometric matching machine, there will be French technology working in those complex machines. The chips for such matching machines are being manufactured in Noida, on the outskirts of the Capital by Smart Chip Limited and Syscom Corporation Limited which have teamed up with the French aerospace and defence giant Safran group to offer a wide range of such solutions right here in India.

Joining hands with the French conglomerate way back in 1996, the Noida Smart Chip plant, which became operational in 2008, is producing nearly one million smart cards daily not only for the domestic market but also for export to Asia, Africa and West Asian countries. It happens to be the largest plant of its kind in Asia.

“Safran is also working closely with India to ensure the protection of both people and infrastructures, by providing ultra modern, foolproof security solutions, especially for air travel, defence, law enforcement and commercial establishments,” Jean-Paul Herteman, president of Defence Security Branch of Safran, told The Hindu.

The Noida plant has also won a contract to provide secured access control system to State Bank of India (SBI) which will include a personal, employee-specific authentication process to be used through biometrics in 21,000 SBI branches spread all over the country.

During a recent visit to India, Mr. Herteman sounded upbeat on growth and expansion prospects in India despite an economic slowdown the world over. With its India footprint dating back to 1950s with the sale of equipment for planes and helicopters, Safran group has forged partnerships with the Indian industry, based on joint developments. It has been a supplier to the Indian armed forces since the 1950s, providing engines or equipment for over 700 planes and choppers, including fighter jets like Jaguar, Mirage 2000, Light Combat Aircraft, Su-30, Hawk, MIG-29K and choppers like Cheetah, Chetak and Dhruv.

“We provide a wide range of avionics and optronics systems for a number of combat platforms, including aircraft, submarines, artillery systems and tanks,” Mr. Herteman said. The group also teamed up with public sector HAL to develop the Shakti engine and autopilot for the Dhruv helicopter.

Mr. Herteman said that the Safran group opened a corporate subsidiary in India last year to expand its operations and strengthen relations with local partners. The group has more than 2,100 highly skilled employees in India who are working at eight subsidiaries and joint ventures.

He disclosed that the group was also toying with the idea of setting up a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the civil aviation sector. Safran is also the leading supplier of jet engines, landing gear and carbon brakes for airlines operating in India and neighbouring countries. “Our operations are global with nearly 62,000 employees in 57 countries and we generated 11.7 billion Euros of revenue in 2011,” he said.

The group has the Safran Engineering Services India (SESI) in Bangalore which provides end-to-end engineering services to global and local customers. It embodies Safran’s proven expertise in aerostructures, electrical and mechanical systems, electronics and software.

Snecma HAL Aerospace Pvt. Ltd. (SHAe), also in Bangalore, is an equal joint venture between Snecma (Safran) and HAL. It manufactures high-tech components for aircraft engines. CFM Training Centre in Hyderabad provides maintenance training for ground crews from airlines operating CFM56 engines that power a number of civilian passenger aircrafts in India.

Safran’s helicopter engine support centre at Bangalore — Turbomeca India Engines Pvt. Ltd. — provides support services for Turbomeca engines to its Indian customers. Its main partners are State-owned HAL and Pawan Hans.

However, the Safran chief is betting big on security solutions in India, especially for air travel, defence, law enforcement and commercial establishments, including the hospitality sector and other major markets where security is vital.

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