Indian defense ground radar requirements have driven the creation of a new Franco-Indian joint venture between Thales and Bharat Electronics (BEL), after a two-year delay. BEL-Thales Systems will enable the French company to meet Indian offset and technology transfer commitments associated with an Indian Air Force (IAF) order for 19 radars.
Thales holds 26 percent of the new company, and state-owned Bharat Electronics the other 74 percent. It has been created to design, develop, market, supply and support ground-based civilian and military radars. While Thales’s main strengths are in systems engineering, integration and testing, BEL has manufactured radars for the military. Thales will supply six of the 19 Ground Smarter (GS100) low level transportable radars (LLTR) that the IAF has ordered from France, with the other 13 to be assembled in BEL's facility near Delhi in Ghaziabad. Based on the Thales SR3D, the GS100 is a mobile, modular, multifunctional radar dedicated to tracking complex target maneuvers at low altitude. It offers operational performance out to 180 km.
Meanwhile, an indigenous 4D LLTR named Ashwini, using active arrays, is being developed by the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) radar design laboratory. The IAF has indicated an order for 18 and a total requirement for 67 of these. It is not clear if BEL-Thales Systems will manufacture Ashwini.
In the near future, meanwhile, the IAF is likely to issue an RFP for another mobile air defense radar requirement, for which the Franco-Indian partnership will offer the ControlMaster 60 radar. In fact, this could be the first product to be rolled out of the company's facility, AIN has learned. It is optimized for mobile air defense operation with a search-on-the-move capability and for engagement of conventional and asymmetric threats in harsh environments, clutter and intense jamming conditions and simultaneous multiple engagements.
The Indian army also has a large requirement for ground radar. It has sought bids for 66 Air Defence Fire Control Radars (ADFCRs) to begin the process of replacing as many as 450 older radars in its inventory. AirbusD&S last year reported that it was one of three bidders, offering a land-based version of its naval TRD-3D radar in cooperation with Indian partner Larsen and Toubro.
Thales is a major partner in Team Rafale, which is still trying to conclude the $20 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract with the Indian Air Force. Despite the arrival of the new Indian government and the overhaul and clarification of offset and technology transfer rules, leading to the BEL-Thales joint venture, no progress has been reported in the MMRCA negotiations, which have dragged on for nearly three years.