In conversation with Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, VP & Country Director, Thales in India
With new initiatives and policy decisions on several fronts, the Indian defence sector is moving towards an era of self-reliance. Many of the projects under the ambitious ‘Make in India’ flagship programme of the government has helped in translating the “good beginnings” as concrete realities on the ground.
Being the third-largest armed forces in the world, strengthening and modernising the defence capabilities is arguably one of the key priorities for India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiatives to push Indian defence sector as one of the fastest developing industry on the global platform has caught attention of policy makers all across the world. It has not only helped in developing a camaraderie with nations who have special strengths in defence but has also cemented India as an important strategic and defence partner with them. Ever since Thales began operations in India in 1953, the company has actively contributed to the modernisation of the defence, aerospace and ground transportation markets in the country. Over 600 employees are working with Thales and its joint ventures in India.”
Supporting Indian Armed Forces
From optronics to software defined radio, from full command and control networks to missiles and vehicles, Thales is a leader in offering a broad palette of solutions to help India’s armed forces gain and maintain operational superiority. Backed by such high- technology solutions, Thales has cemented its position as a trusted partner to all the three branches of the Indian Armed Forces: Navy, Air Force and Army.
One of the key milestones for Thales has been selection of the Rafale MMRCA by the Indian Air Force as it provides a number of state-of-the-art equipment and systems aboard the omnirole combat aircraft. The Indian Air Force has also relied on Thales for enhancing the technical- operational capabilities of its Mirage 2000 fleet. In July 2011, Thales and Dassault Aviation signed a contract for the upgrade of this fleet. The teams from Thales and Dassault Aviation have been supporting Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in upgrading the Mirage 2000 fleet as per the contract.”
For the Indian Navy, Thales offers a wide range of systems and solutions that includes- electronic warfare systems, longrange surveillance radar, anti-submarine warfare sonar systems and mine-hunting solutions while for the Indian Army, these include optronics like Hand Held Thermal Imagers (HHTI) and Catherine thermal imagers on T90 tanks and air defence radars, among others.
Contributing to ‘Make in India’
Encouraged by the Government of India’s policies on indigenisation, the Indian defence sector has seen an infusion of energy. With important initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Digital India’, Thales believes the country is taking the right strides towards emerging into a very capable defence manufacturing hub on par with international standards.
Thales’s strategy of developing its industrial footprint in India is in line with the Indian government’s policy of ‘Make in India’. Over the last five decades, Thales has been working closely with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in all technological areas that can be used for military aircrafts. The JVs with Bharat Electronics Limited 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 the company’s commitment towards India.”
Innovation is in Thales’s DNA. In partnership with leaders in academia and industry, the company is seeking to deliver ground breaking research and transformative technology that drives growth in India. Nearly 20% of the annual sales is dedicated to research & development. On 10 March 2018, Thales and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) signed an MoU to create a jointly supervised PhD fellowship programme in coordination with Centre Nationnal de la Recherche Scientifique ( CNRS). It has similar partnerships with IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi and Indian Institute of Science Bangalore.