Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Companies Gear Up To Meet Indian Sensor Demand

Aerospace Daily
Oct 27, 2010

NEW DELHI — Information technology services company Mahindra Satyam is scouting for partners to round out its capabilities in battle management systems, network-centric warfare, data fusion and electronic warfare.

“While India has seen an explosive growth in defense, the challenge is to access highly complex technology. We [in India] lack system integration applications for UAVs [and] precision strike weapons,” says Ramaseshan Satagopan, head of aerospace engineering at the company, which is part of the $7 billion Mahindra Group. “The key technology is sensors, which we do not have.”

India lags by about a decade in sensor technology, especially for so-called smart weapons, the executive says, but the country knows it must ramp up its capability there. “Today, remote-controlled warfare is the key. For us, sensors, information and communication networks are [critical].”

Mahindra also is pursuing an offset-oriented track for business, and the IT division, which is working with the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), could become the “nodal agency for offset programs for us,” Satagopan says.

The group recently formed a joint venture with BAE Systems called Defense Land Systems India. The venture will manufacture light armored vehicles, mine-protected vehicles, artillery systems and other land systems at its manufacturing facility near New Delhi.

“Defense electronics is the key we need to work on, as India has big projects in the pipeline,” Satagopan says. DRDO’s Armament Research & Development Establishment in Pune is developing an indigenous 155-mm. towed gun with private industry.

Nevertheless, Satagopan acknowledged intellectual property (IP) rights issues are “very tricky and challenging.”

Comparing China to India, he says: “We have better control here. The key in IP is to develop processes, communication and security. This can only take place once the partner looks at India long term.”

Last year, Mahindra won a $300 million IT-outsourcing contract from Sweden’s Saab to develop applications and technology products for battlefield management systems for the Indian army. A network-centric warfare center of excellence will offer comprehensive skills and a repository of tools, systems and integration platforms.
- Neelam Mathews

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