2016: “A landmark year for Thales in India”
In conversation with Stephane Lavigne, Thales, VP S&M–India, he states, “As we have stepped into 2017, it gives an opportunity to look back and reflect on the past year for Thales in India. With a rich legacy of over six decades in India, Thales has been contributing significantly towards the growth story of the country. The year 2016 saw some key milestones in Thales’s successful ongoing partnership with India, both industries and armed forces.
One of the significant developments of 2016 was the contract for 36 Rafale aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Thales, a member of the Rafale team, alongside Dassault Aviation, provides a number of state-of-the-art equipment and systems aboard the Rafale. These include the provision of RBE2 AESA radar, the Spectra electronic warfare system, optronics, the communication navigation and identification system (CNI), the majority of the cockpit display systems, power generation systems and a logistics support component. Rafale’s new export success demonstrates Thales’ ability, alongside Dassault Aviation and its partners, to constantly meet the customer’s highest expectations through innovation, mastery of advanced technology and industrial excellence. This contract will create hundreds of jobs on Thales manufacturing sites in France, as well as for numerous partners and sub-contractors in India and France.
Another key highlight of the year was the signing of a partnership agreement between Thales and BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL) for joint development of the PHAROS fire control radar that will meet requirements of armed forces in India and in other global geographies. The Joint Venture (JV)company - BTSL attests to the long and successful working relationship that Thales has had with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).
The company also has a JV with Samtel for military avionics and airborne sensor systems and with L&T Technology Services for avionics software. This is in addition to the long term partnership that Thales has with HAL – both have been working closely for over 50 years now. Further in line with the ‘Make in India’ policy, Thales has been co-operating with the Indian private sector particularly large corporate players, SMEs and MSMEs to build transfer of technology and supply chain partnerships for Indian as well as for international markets. These associations underline Thales’s long-term commitment to India and its plans to enhance its industrial footprint in the country.
Taking forward its participation in the modernisation process of India’s armed forces, Thales announced the award of a contract from BELTECH to provide Catherine thermal imaging cameras for T-90 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) of the Indian Army in May 2016. As part of this contract, Thales is doing a transfer of production to integrate 260 compact LWIR thermal imaging (TI) Catherine into BELTECH’s TI Sights that will be installed on the T-90 battle tanks of Indian Army. The Catherine thermal imager is already in service with the Indian Army and this new order consolidates Thales leadership in optronics technologies in India.
While these were some of the key highpoints, ongoing projects like the Mirage 2000 upgrade saw steady progress in 2016. Four upgraded Mirage 2000 aircraft have been delivered to the Indian Air Force. The rest of the fleet is being upgraded under the responsibility of HAL with the support of Dassault Aviation and Thales teams, as per the contract.
As a global technology leader, Thales doesn’t only build defence and aerospace solutions but also invests in the future through extensive R&D initiatives. These initiatives enable Thales to remain ahead of competition and develop technologies for tomorrow. In line with this approach, Thales has been collaborating with top ranked academic institutions. In 2016, the company signed MoUs with IIT Bombay and IIT Delhi to create a PhD fellowship programme in January and September respectively.
Thales is most enthusiastic about India and the vision of‘ ‘Make in India’ which is energising the sector and paving the way for India to evolve into a global manufacturing hub and a defence exporter. The company expects this trend to continue while simplifying and accelerating the processes for the same. This will not only help Indian industries become globally competitive but will also allow companies like Thales to further support the country’s modernisation needs. Through its ‘Go to India’ approach, Thales has an extensive experience in liaising with numerous group supply chain partners to support the local industry in India and open up growth opportunities for them.
Looking forward, the company will continue to respond to market requirements, build a strong ecosystem of partners and support the process of transforming India into a global innovation and manufacturing hub”.