Thales Group to expand strategic collaborations, set up MRO for civil aviation in India

Thales is significantly expanding its investments in India and will be establishing a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Delhi-NCR with ‘multi-million-Euro’ investment, says its vice-president and country director Ashish Saraf

February 04, 2024 10:31 pm | Updated February 05, 2024 09:57 am IST - NEW DELHI

Ashish Saraf, vice-president and country director, Thales India. 

Ashish Saraf, vice-president and country director, Thales India. 

French electronics major Thales is significantly expanding its investments as well as sourcing from India. A joint venture, Thales Reliance Defence Systems Ltd., in Nagpur is now the Group’s global production centre for airport navigational aids, while Bharat Electronics Limited-Thales Systems in Bangalore manufactures high-tech products such as low-band receivers for the electronic warfare suite of Rafale jets. “We are trying to expand and strengthen our local footprint,” says Ashish Saraf, vice-president and country director, Thales India.

India is currently negotiating the purchase of 26 Rafale-M jets for the Navy. 

In addition, Thales will be establishing a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in Delhi-National Capital Region with “multi-million-Euro” investment for its Indian airline customers focused towards avionics, Mr. Saraf said in a written interview to The Hindu. “India is a strategic country for Thales with immense potential across our key markets including defence, aerospace as well as digital identity and security solutions. We take pride in our partnership with India built over the past seven decades,” he said.

Elaborating on the MRO facility, he said that “combining the strengths of Indian civil aviation market with Thales’s prowess in avionics”, they are investing in an MRO set-up in India to provide “world-class service efficiency” to their airline customers. “In the spirit of ‘Make in India’, we are also further building on our defence foothold by developing local services capacity to better support our Indian defence customers to achieve their operational readiness as well as provide all integrated logistics support in India, including maintenance, spare parts, and training,” Mr. Saraf stated.

Stating that they have steadily built advanced in-country capabilities across manufacturing, critical systems, and services in India through local teams and collaborations, Mr. Saraf said their objective has been “Make in India for India and for the world”, enabling the local industry to play a greater role in worldwide markets. “We are investing in the larger supply chain ecosystem in India. Our purchasing volume in India in the last five years has been around €750 million. This supply chain ecosystem has led to creation of close to 2,000 indirect jobs in India,” he said.

Speaking of the ongoing expansion plans, the Thales senior executive said they are now accelerating local expansion initiatives which include ramping up the engineering centres in Noida and Bengaluru. “We recently inaugurated our second state-of-the-art facility in Bengaluru to cater to our growth ambitions. Our Bangalore engineering centre has local teams working with our teams in France on flight avionics development programmes, including the new Flight Management System, PureFlyt,” stated Mr. Saraf.

These teams are also working on other high-value software areas including complex avionics systems, in-flight entertainment, cockpit connectivity, video systems, and radar software, among others, he said. “Our engineering centre in Noida specialises in digital activities spanning data protection and encryption, cybersecurity, biometrics, banking and payment solutions, among others,” he added.

India is also in discussions with France for the purchase of three additional Scorpene-class conventional submarines of Naval Group, in which Thales also has a stake. These submarines are to be manufactured in India.

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