Foreign firms hope to make a mark in Indian defence sector

Airbus is vying for IAF’s Avro replacement programme for which the company is the sole bidder

Updated - April 13, 2018 01:18 pm IST

Published - April 12, 2018 10:02 pm IST - TiruvidanThai

 Airbus India chief Pierre De Bausset with Navy officials at DefExpo in Thiruvidanthai in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district on April 12, 2018.

Airbus India chief Pierre De Bausset with Navy officials at DefExpo in Thiruvidanthai in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district on April 12, 2018.

A number of foreign firms that are participating at the Defence Expo 2018 here, and are also vying for certain tenders announced by the Defence Ministry, are hoping to be part of the Indian defence story.

One of them is Airbus, which is vying for the Indian Air Force’s Avro Replacement Programme, for which the company was the sole bidder.

Tie-up with Tatas

If the deal fructifies, Airbus will manufacture 56 C295W, in collaboration with the Tatas. Tata Advanced Systems Ltd (TASL) of the Tata Group and Airbus Defence and Space had tied up to make the C295W, a military transport aircraft. The IAF plans to replace the fleet of its HS748 Avros with the C295s.

Pierre de Bausset, President and Managing Director, Airbus India, told The Hindu at the Defence Expo that the product would be a ‘Make in India’ product.

“As soon as the Avro replacement programme turns into a contract, it will be assembled over here, manufactured here in India…it He rued a number of missed opportunities for Airbus over the past years with the defence sector for various reasons. “Things are moving now,” he said. The company sources a number of parts, equipment from India with its business totalling more than half a billion dollars annually in India.

Another company vying for a contract with the Defence Ministry is Sweden’s SAAB Group. SAAB is one of three bidders for India’s procurement of Very Short-Range Air Defence system. The company has pitched its RBS 70 NG man-portable defence system, which it claims is more advanced than other systems available in the market.

“To help meet the VSHORAD production goals, we have been in contact with something like 110 companies in India for the production of printed circuit boards, mechanical details, harnesses, and also explosives and propellants,” Bo Almqvist, Director, Saab Dynamics, told The Hindu .

Mr. Almqvist said the company was also working towards meeting the 30% offset requirements for the project through a range of avenues including investments.

The VSHORAD tender is estimated at over $5 billion for more than 5,000 missiles and 1,276 single and multi-launchers with stipulated technology transfer requirement for Defence Public Sector Undertakings. The process to acquire these missiles began way back in 2010 and has been stuck after many trials and retrials. However, the contract negotiations are likely to begin sometime soon.

French company Thales signed an agreement with Kanpur-based MKU Ltd. on Tuesday for developing and manufacturing optronic devices and F90 close quarter battle (CQB) rifles under the ‘Make in India’ scheme.

Emmanuel De Roquefeuil, Vice-President and Country Director, India, Thales said MKU would set up a manufacturing and assembly plant to make the carbine version of the F90 CQBs.

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