Thales to expand presence in India, says France supports company’s resolve to share critical technology

French defense major Thales has decided to expand its presence in India to exploit billions of dollars of military requirements expected to flow from India’s ambitious plan to roll out theatre commands to deal with evolving security challenges.

Pascale Sourisse, senior executive vice president, International Development, Thales, said the creation of theatre commands will fuel the need for radars, electronic warfare systems, and weapons and the firm is ready to meet the huge demands, including through joint production of military hardware.

The first batch of RBE2 active electronically scanned array(AESA) radar will come out from the joint venture between Thales and Reliance Aerostructure Ltd next month, Sourisse told PTI in an interview.

The Nagpur-based manufacturing facility of the joint venture is going to produce SPECTRA electronic warfare systems, which are going to be part of the Rafale fighter jets. Initially, the RBE2 AESA radars were being integrated into the facility.

The JV was set up to develop Indian capabilities to integrate and maintain radars and manufacture high-performance airborne electronics, leveraging Thales’ offset commitment as part of a deal to supply 36 Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force.

India plans to reorganize the existing military commands into common theatre commands comprising the Army, Navy and Air Force, similar to the structure followed by the leading western powers.

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat last month announced that work on establishing theatre commands will be completed within three years and that the new model will significantly enhance India’s combat capabilities.

“The Indian market is a very important market for Thales. We are investing in this market considering future growth opportunities,” Suisse said.

Thales, a vendor of Dassault Aviation, has already almost tripled its headcount in India to 1,600.

Suisse also said Thales will be able to boost technology transfer to India if the Rafale aircraft is chosen by the Indian Air Force in its hunt to procure 114 fighter jets for USD 18 billion.

The top contenders for the deal include Lockheed’s F-21, Boeing’s F/A-18, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Russian aircraft MiG 35 and Saab’s Gripen.

In 2016, India inked a Euro 7.87 billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets. The first four aircraft will arrive in India in May.

“Thales is part of the Rafale team. We hope that Dassault Aviation will get future orders. Our resolve to share critical technologies with India is fully supported by the French government. There is a clear commitment to transfer critical technology to India,” Suisse said.

She said Thales has offered to produce F90 assault rifles in India.

Source also said that Thales is keen to help India in its multi-billion-dollar program to develop a next-generation advanced multi-role combat aircraft and also in the Tejas fighter jet program.

Thales has also announced joining hands with MKU, an Indian company, to co-develop night vision devices for the armed forces in India and across the world.

The source said Thales has also offered Indian armed forces a new generation radio solution which could enhance interoperability among the Air Force, the Navy and the Army in a collaborative combat scenario.

Thales, which has been in India since 1953, provides solutions, services, and products to customers in the aeronautics, space, transport, digital identity and security, and defense markets in 68 countries.

In the last couple of years, Thales has been investing in digital innovations with a focus on big data, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

Last year, Thales launched its Global Engineering Competence Centre in Bengaluru to accelerate innovation and digital transformation to serve the needs of the Indian market and the group’s global markets.

Source: Economics Times

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