It had bagged orders worth Rs. 190 crore for various products

Good tidings are in for BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Limited (BATL) — it has embarked on its second phase of development to put in place a full-fledged missile integration complex.

The company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BrahMos Aerospace that caters to product requirements in the country's defence, aerospace and nuclear sectors, is set to land orders for production of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile's liquid ramjet engine, thus making it the first Indian company to manufacture BrahMos engines.

“The BATL has already bagged orders worth Rs. 190 crore for various products, including Rs. 65 crore from the Indian Space Research Organisation. Given its performance, we have decided to ask it to make the entire BrahMos missile, including the nose cap, the whole of F3 [the missile section comprising airframe and fuel tank] and the ramjet engine. In effect, it will be the complete missile except the composite part and warhead. Anyway, the BATL is already making some critical airframe components of the missile such as the front docking unit and the shutter assembly,” BrahMos Chief Executive Officer A. Sivathanu Pillai told The Hindu at an interaction in New Delhi last week.

The BrahMos being an India-Russian joint venture, a transfer of technology agreement would soon be signed between the appropriate authorities of the two sides to manufacture the engine in India.

At present, the BrahMos engines are produced at Orenburg in Russia. Besides the BATL, one more Indian company would be qualified to make the missile's engines, Mr. Pillai added.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, the BATL had received a go-ahead from the ISRO for manufacturing cryogenic engines for the GSLVs.

On the company's phase-II, he said construction of the integration complex had begun and the Defence Research and Development Organisation released Rs. 50 crore for the purpose.

“We are interested in developing the company by placing orders on it in a phased manner and this is what I told the Chief Minister [Oommen Chandy] when I met him on October 12 and he offered us all support,” he said.

Mr. Pillai, however, expressed reservations over the trade union activities at the BATL that threaten to mar its progress.

“When we took over the sick Keltek, we pulled it out of the woods by paying all its debts and implemented a number of employee welfare measures. We paid them 23 months' arrears besides two increments across the board. We also introduced family medical schemes and most recently, an Onam bonus of Rs. 16,000 was paid to every employee. In lieu of these, we reached an agreement with them at the time of acquisition that there would not be any trade union activity on the campus for the first five years. However, a handful of workers went back on their written commitment and began unsavoury campaign aimed at tarnishing the image of the establishment,” Mr. Pillai said.

While major trade unions such as the CITU and the INTUC had understood the ‘sensitive' nature of the establishment, the BrahMos Employees' Union affiliated to the AITUC launched a series of baseless campaigns against the company, said sources in the BATL.

“The BrahMos Aerospace has India holding majority stakes, 50.5 percent to be precise, with Russia holding the rest. The BATL is its subsidiary, in the business of defence and aerospace production. So, how can you treat it as a routine private enterprise?” they said.