Indian Defence Review Interview
Please elaborate on Thales’ journey in supporting the modernization of the Indian Armed Forces?
Present in India since 1953, Thales has been a reliable partner to the Indian armed forces and is supporting its modernization efforts. Under the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy, the Indian defence and aerospace sector is taking right strides towards becoming a global manufacturing hub. This has opened several new opportunities for OEMs like Thales to explore business opportunities and form new relationships with our local partners in India.
As a global technology leader, Thales’ strong innovation capabilities prepare its customers to achieve their big ambitions and master every decisive moment. The company has been on the cutting edge of connectivity and a driving force in the digitalisation of the defence, aerospace and space markets among others. Since 2014, Thales has invested almost € 7 billion in digital technologies (AI, Big Data, Cyber Security & IoT), including the under process acquisition of Gemalto.
As India’s digital ecosystem is rapidly developing, there is a huge potential for organisations like Thales to support the needs of the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy with their solutions coupled with key digital technologies.
Tell us about Thales’ existing partnerships and JVs in India.
Thales strategy of developing its industrial footprint in India is in line with the Indian government’s policy of “Make in India” and of developing the defence base of the country. We have been co-operating with the Indian private sector, particularly large corporate players and SMEs, to build transfer of technology and supply chain partnerships. We are further leveraging the ‘Make in India’ policy and liaising with numerous group supply chain partners to support the local industry in India and open up growth opportunities for them.
Thales has been working closely with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for over 50 years. We have been providing high-end avionics to equip the platforms that HAL is designing. Thales has a JV with Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) as BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL), which is dedicated to the design, development, marketing, supply and support of civilian and select military ground based radars for India and the global markets. With BTSL, Thales is jointly developing the PHAROS fire control radar for gun and missile systems that will cater to both domestic Indian and international markets. BTSL will also be undertaking the production of the LBREC – Low Band Receiver of the self-protection suite of the Rafale.
It also has successful JVs with L&T Technology Services to develop software engineering activities in India, particularly in the avionics domain, with Samtel for helmet mounted sights and displays, military avionics and airborne sensor systems, and recently formed JV with Reliance Aerostructure.
Thales is planning to open it first Engineering Competence Centre in India. Please elaborate on that.
The new Engineering Competence Centre will expand our footprint and cement our long-standing relationship with India. It will be a first-of-its kind engineering centre in India that will focus on software and hardware capabilities in the areas of civil as well as defence businesses, serving Thales’ global needs. We seek to hire over 2000 engineers in the next three to five years for this Engineering Centre.
What are Thales’ expectations from Aero India this year?
With the success of its past editions, Aero India has carved a niche for itself globally as a premier aerospace exhibition. We look forward to participating in this mega event and showcasing our cutting-edge solutions to the Indian customers and building new relationships with our stakeholders and industry at large. Thales, together with its local partners, looks forward to address the modernisation plans of the Indian armed forces with its cutting-edge technologies. It also steps forward in its aim of expanding its industrial footprint in the country with the upcoming engineering competence centre in Bengaluru and seeks to showcase the same at the Skill India Pavillion too.