Thales ‘Go to In­dia’ ap­proach is good

Thales’ strat­egy of de­vel­op­ing its in­dus­trial foot­print in In­dia is in line with the In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pol­icy to de­velop the in­dus­trial de­fence base of the coun­try. Pa­trick Mal­lon, Chief Tech­nol­o­gist and Se­nior Thales Ex­pert in Mis­sile


SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): The air threat en­ve­lope has be­come more chal­leng­ing in the last few decades. What is your per­cep­tion of cur­rent and fu­ture air threat?

Pa­trick Mal­lon (Mal­lon): Over a pe­riod of time, air threat is in­creas­ing ex­po­nen­tially both in range and al­ti­tude. Due to the rise of air power which ini­tially started with fighter/bomber air­craft, air de­fence has evolved.

From past sev­eral years, at­tack he­li­copters, un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles, cruise and bal­lis­tic mis­siles be­came part of the air threat.

In the In­dian Army’s vi­sion of the fu­ture, the army must progress into a mod­ern net-en­abled force, which is ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing air de­fence pro­tec­tion to field forces and strate­gic as­sets against the com­plete spec­trum of air threat.

SP’s: Do you keep the above air threat in mind while plan­ning your air de­fence sys­tems?

Mal­lon: Thales holds decades of ex­pe­ri­ence and is ac­tive in an­tic­i­pat­ing the fu­ture threat; work­ing with cus­tomers to pro­vide the nextgen­er­a­tion of ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions.

Thales has been work­ing with cus­tomers to ad­dress evolv­ing threats through Thales Ad­vanced Air De­fence so­lu­tions that en­sures timely de­ci­sion-making and ef­fec­tive re­sponses for the pro­tec­tion of mil­i­tary forces, key as­sets, na­tions and cit­i­zens around the globe. Thales is pro­vid­ing its cus­tomers with so­lu­tions and ser­vices that truly meet their needs. We do this by ap­ply­ing all the tech­nolo­gies and in­no­va­tions that have made us world lead­ers in the sec­tor. Thales has a unique ca­pa­bil­ity to de­sign, de­velop and de­ploy equip­ment, sys­tems and ser­vices that meet the most com­plex se­cu­rity re­quire­ments.

SP’s: What do you feel should be the op­ti­mum mix of ground-based air de­fence sys­tems in terms of guns and mis­siles or only mis­siles with mul­ti­ple ranges?

Mal­lon: An op­ti­mum mix of ground-based air de­fence sys­tems would be in terms of guns and mis­siles that would al­low bet­ter tar­get en­gage­ment.

As you are aware, mis­siles can take tar­gets at a longer range and are more ac­cu­rate. They are faster and with the new tech­nol­ogy, they can ma­noeu­vre them­selves to en­gage the tar­get. On the other hand, guns are ef­fec­tive to take tar­gets at a shorter range, have a faster re­ac­tion time and are rel­a­tively eco­nom­i­cal.

SP’s: Do you of­fer any air de­fence gun sys­tems?

Mal­lon: Thales’ RAPID­Fire is a gun sys­tem adapted to both vi­tal as­sets and fixed points de­fence, as well as mo­bile troops or con­voys pro­tec­tion mis­sions. This mo­bile, multi-role weapon sys­tem

is de­signed to re­spond to the new threats be­ing en­coun­tered by armed forces to­day and in par­tic­u­lar the low-cost tar­gets which can at­tack in swarms and can sat­u­rate con­ven­tional mis­sile de­fences. RAPID­Fire ben­e­fits from 40 years of Thales’ back­ground ex­pe­ri­ence in field proven weapon sys­tems for French and over­seas armed forces. With its pow­er­ful anti-air­craft gun, high per­for­mance 3D radar and ver­sa­tile C2 mod­ule, RAPID­Fire is op­ti­mised to de­feat all types of air threats in­clud­ing fighter ground at­tack (FGA), he­li­copters or un­manned air ve­hi­cles (UAV) and cruise mis­siles or pre­ci­sion guided mu­ni­tions.

Thales also has elec­tro-op­tics such as the fire con­trol radars and Fly­catcher Mark 1 and Mark 2, Pharos, among oth­ers, which are in­te­grated with gun sys­tems for bet­ter ac­cu­racy.

SP’s: StarStreak is a short-range air de­fence mis­sile of­fered by Thales. Can you give some de­tails like range, guidance sys­tem, anti-air threat ca­pa­bil­ity, vari­ants for var­i­ous plat­forms like land, ve­hi­cle, he­li­copter, tank and so on?

Mal­lon: StarStreak high ve­loc­ity mis­sile was de­signed to pro­vide close air de­fence against con­ven­tional air threats such as fixed­wing fight­ers and late un­mask­ing he­li­copter tar­gets. Thales has ad­dressed the needs of mil­i­tary users around the world and in­tro­duced ma­jor im­prove­ments to pro­vide in­creased range be­yond 7 km, in­creased cov­er­age and al­ti­tude and im­proved guidance pre­ci­sion against small tar­gets. StarStreak has been de­signed to de­feat th­ese threats quickly and ef­fec­tively and pro­vide a vi­tal ca­pa­bil­ity in force pro­tec­tion. StarStreak is a truly ver­sa­tile mis­sile and is most ef­fec­tive when deal­ing with tar­gets with short ex­po­sure times.

The key fea­tures of StarStreak are its proven ca­pa­bil­ity against air tar­gets, im­me­di­ate launch ca­pa­bil­ity—no seeker cool, down or lock-on re­quired, high pre­ci­sion laser beam rid­ing guidance which is im­mune to all known coun­ter­mea­sures, low sig­na­ture rocket mo­tor with short burn time, low laser beam en­ergy lev­els en­sur­ing no warn­ing to tar­get, au­to­matic cut down ca­pa­bil­ity for mis­sile in flight (to avoid frat­ri­cide), zero main­te­nance mis­sile—no in ser­vice sup­port, pre­ci­sion strike/low col­lat­eral dam­age and in­sen­si­tive mu­ni­tions (IM) com­pli­ance.

StarStreak can be launched from the light­weight mul­ti­ple launcher (LML) and Thales RAPIDRanger.

SP’s: What about medium-range mis­siles from Thales?

Mal­lon: In the do­main of medium-range mis­sile sys­tems Thales is a mem­ber of the EUROSAM con­sor­tium. EUROSAM is de­liv­er­ing the medium-range sur­face-to-air SAMP/T sys­tem. This sys­tem is qual­i­fied and has un­equalled ca­pa­bil­i­ties of in­ter­cep­tion of air tar­gets and tac­ti­cal bal­lis­tic mis­siles. Both mis­sions can be per­formed si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Thales is also de­liv­er­ing the en­gage­ment con­trol func­tion for medium-range sur­face-to-air mis­siles in the naval do­main. This in­cludes a com­mand and con­trol sys­tems and mul­ti­func­tion radars.

SP’s: Thales has a big pres­ence in In­dia for Army Air De­fence radars, with Fly­catcher Mk 1 and its up­graded version be­ing the main­stay of the Army. What are your fu­ture plans to take this co­op­er­a­tion to the next level of radar sys­tems?

Mal­lon: From decades, Thales has been offering the full scope of its de­fence ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence to the In­dian armed forces. Thales tech­nolo­gies al­low the In­dian armed forces to bet­ter pro­tect the coun­try which is their first mis­sion. We would con­tinue with our sup­port to the In­dian armed forces and fa­cil­i­tate its goals of self-reliance in de­fence equip­ment and mod­erni­sa­tion in­clud­ing the next level of radar sys­tems.

Thales looks for­ward to pro­vide an up­graded and tech ad­vanced radar sys­tems for air de­fence.

SP’s: Are you offering AESA radars along with the tech­nol­ogy?

Mal­lon: The GS100 radar is un­der de­liv­ery to the In­dian Air Force (IAF) for the LLTR pro­gramme. GS100 is part of the suc­cess­ful Ground Mas­ter fam­ily (in­clud­ing GM60, GM200, GM400), the air de­fence radars ref­er­ence with more than 100 radars sold world­wide since 2008. It is equipped with an ac­tive ar­ray us­ing the most ad­vanced gal­lium ni­tride com­po­nents for trans­mis­sion. A com­pre­hen­sive trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy to the Bharat Elec­tron­ics Lim­ited (BEL) is on­go­ing so that a num­ber of GS100 radars could be pro­duced in In­dia.

SP’s: What about ground-based air de­fence sys­tems for the IAF as the Army and the IAF jointly im­ple­ment air de­fence in In­dia?

Mal­lon: As shared ear­lier, we are pro­vid­ing radars to the In­dian Army. We look for­ward to of­fer our so­lu­tions as per the re­quire­ments that would come up in the fu­ture as well.

SP’s: Do you of­fer C4I in­te­grated air de­fence so­lu­tions?

Mal­lon: Thales is offering world-class scal­able so­lu­tions and ser­vices for Air De­fence and Air Oper­a­tions based on Thales equip­ment or in­te­grat­ing legacy or third party equip­ment in Open Sys­tem Net­work Cen­tric Ar­chi­tec­ture while com­mit­ting to over­all sys­tem per­for­mance.

SP’s: Will you of­fer the tech­nol­ogy for ac­tive seek­ers for mis­siles to In­dia? Mal­lon:

Wher­ever our cus­tomers need our sup­port, we are there and will con­tinue to of­fer our flag­ship so­lu­tions that suit the re­quire­ment.

SP’s: Can you tell us about mis­sile and sen­sor sys­tems of Thales which can be em­ployed for the In­dian Navy and the IAF?

Mal­lon: Thales has been a trusted sup­plier to the In­dian Navy and IAF. We have al­ready pro­vided anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare sonar sys­tems and mine-hunt­ing so­lu­tions as well as long-range sur­veil­lance radar DA04 and LW08 for the In­dian Navy. We con­tinue to closely fol­low their re­quire­ments.

SP’s: Thales has its pres­ence in In­dia since 1953. What are your plans to par­tic­i­pate in the vi­sion of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s ‘Make in In­dia’?

Mal­lon: We firmly sup­port the ‘Make in In­dia’ cam­paign that trans­lates the gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion of making In­dia a global man­u­fac­tur­ing hub. The ini­tia­tive bodes well for the in­dus­try, thereby paving way for the coun­try to be­come a de­fence ex­porter. Thales’ strat­egy of de­vel­op­ing its in­dus­trial foot­print in In­dia is in line with the In­dian Gov­ern­ment’s ‘Make in In­dia’ pol­icy to de­velop the in­dus­trial de­fence base of the coun­try.

The com­pany has been ac­tively con­tribut­ing to­wards trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy. We have been closely work­ing with the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL) for over 50 years now, in all tech­no­log­i­cal ar­eas that can be used for mil­i­tary air­crafts. Also, our as­so­ci­a­tion with BEL dates back to its in­cep­tion, i.e., over 60 years ago. The JVs with BEL and SAM­TEL along with L&T Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vices in the fields of civil­ian and se­lect ground-based mil­i­tary radars, mil­i­tary avion­ics and air­borne sen­sor sys­tems, and avion­ics soft­ware re­spec­tively fur­ther re­in­force our com­mit­ment to In­dia.

Fur­ther, through its ‘Go to In­dia’ ap­proach, Thales has also been co­op­er­at­ing with the In­dian pri­vate sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly large cor­po­rate play­ers and SMEs, to build trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy and sup­ply chain part­ner­ships.

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