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How are India’s private aerospace firms faring?

Discussion in 'Indian Defence Industry' started by layman, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

    May 1, 2012
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    The emphasis on “Make in India”, centred on indigenous aerospace and defence production, has focused the limelight on private-sector companies. Unlike the public-sector companies, (see article in DNA, April 3), these are much smaller, often family-owned, and are fairly recent entrants.

    They are keen to make their mark, hungry for orders, and willing to work hard to win them. Apart from their well-trained and highly motivated staff and their well-equipped facilities, their private-sector corporate culture is their greatest asset. A former HAL Chairman had once said that he was very satisfied with their quality of work, as well as their avoidance of cost and time overruns.

    The finest tributes to these small companies are paid by the giants of the industry — the original equipment manufacturers they serve. Airbus had a full-page advertisement in a Show Daily at Aero India 2017. “We congratulate Aequs. Together, we are giving wings to Make in India”. Aequs had won Airbus’ Innovation Award for aerostructures and materials. Similarly, Boeing had honoured Russell Techsys as the “Supplier of the Year 2015”. Marshall Aerospace & Defence Group has said that Maini Precision Products have been a key supplier for complex structural parts and subassemblies, and have achieved the status of top-rated supplier. They have been awarded that contract for the entire life of the programme. Some companies have won multiple awards.

    Once these small companies start operations, they generally grow rapidly. Adani Aerospace & Defence is setting up a modern aerospace “ecosystem” at Mundra. It includes a well-equipped airfield with night-landing facilities and hangars for manufacturing work. Among Maini’s main products are landing gear components for Safran, to equip the very new Airbus A350. Maini had expanded their aerospace facilities from just four CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines in 2005 to 40 today. Russell Techsys, after setting up an 87,000 sq ft engineering facility at Whitefield, are now constructing a 200,000 sq ft plant at the Devanahalli Aerospace Park.

    What type of work do these companies do? Entry-level companies usually set up a small number of CNC machines to produce small and fairly simple components, as displayed at their stands at Aero India 2017. Among the largest and most complex components was a nose undercarriage leg machined from the solid. They soon graduate to multi-axis CNC milling machines for the machining of fairly sophisticated components. These form parts of airframes, engines, landing gears, and the like.

    Further up the supply chain, Airbus has formed a partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) for the final assembly of the C295W military transport in India, should it be ordered.

    Similarly, Airbus has set up a partnership with Mahindra Defence for the production in India of a number of Airbus military helicopters. Should India order the AS565 Panther helicopter (above), Airbus will not only set up a final assembly line, but will also make India a global hub for it. Larsen & Toubro have teamed up with European missile manufacturer MBDA. They initially plan to develop and manufacture a fifth-generation anti-tank guided missile. If selected, it would be the most advanced such weapon in India’s armoury.

    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Kalyani Strategic Systems have formed a joint venture to manufacture and market the former’s air defence systems as well as special-purpose munitions. Adani Aerospace & Defence had displayed at Aero India 2017 a full-scale mock-up of the Elbit Hernes 900 UAV. Should India wish to order it, Elbit will transfer the technology to Adani for its local manufacture. Among the “big boys” is Tata Power SED. Their wide-ranging products include launcher-transporters for Akash surface-to-air missiles, Pinaka artillery rockets and the Medium Range Surface to Air Missiles. The company is setting up a very modern new plant on a 50-acre site at Vemagal, Karnataka.

    No Indian private company is able to currently manufacture complete military aircraft of its own design. It would need capabilities like prime contractorship and systems integration to do that. The first such aircraft could possibly be made some day by the Tata Group, as a number of Tata companies have already acquired wide-ranging aerospace manufacturing capabilities. Private manufacturers will then have finally “arrived”.

    The author is an aerospace industry analyst.

    Published April 25, 2017
    Itachi and Sancho like this.

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