As part of European defence major Thales’ Offsets commitments under the Rafale India contract Indian Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has manufactured T/R (transmit/receive) modules for the RBE2 radar on the Dassault Aviation Rafale and delivered them to Thales. Specifically developed for Rafale, the RBE2 is the first in-service European AESA radar and has been combat proven on Rafale aircraft operated by the French Air Force. It was developed in close partnership with Dassault Aviation and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) to meet the requirements of air forces and uses innovative technologies to combine advanced fire control radar functions and target tracking capabilities.
The T/R (transmit/receive) modules are key to the RBE2 radar’s active electronic scanning performance, enabling it to steer the radar beam with the speed of an electronic chip. BEL implemented a set of rigorous processes at its Bangalore facility in order to achieve this key milestone. In November 2020, the first RBE2 AESA (active electronic scanning array) radar with a front end manufactured by BEL in India was delivered by Thales to Dassault Aviation.
Initiated at the end of 2017, the transfer of technology to BEL has included validation of the company’s technical capacity to deliver prototypes, qualify the various technologies involved in the wiring process, set up a dedicated SMC wiring production line with a preproduction run, train BEL engineers in France and install test benches for microwave characterisation at the BEL facility. The modules produced in India are then integrated with the RBE2 radar in France. BEL and Thales teams are, thus working closely to transfer advanced technological know-how, according to the press statement.
“We’re delighted to see our collaboration with BEL delivering results, with the radar transmit/receive modules for the Rafale India programme being produced in Bangalore in line with the Make in India policy. The Thales teams are fully mobilised alongside our partners Dassault Aviation in France and BEL in India,” said Emmanuel De Roquefeuil, Vice President and Country Director, Thales in India.
Whereas the Chairman and Managing Director, BEL said “we are happy to be associated with Thales in delivering the Transmit/Receive modules for the prestigious Rafale programme. The Thales and BEL teams ensured that the ToT happened seamlessly. We have augmented our facility in Bangalore to meet the requirements of manufacturing this state-of-the-art sub-system. We look forward to working together on many more such challenging assignments with Thales,”
Thales Striving to Become More Local
As part of Rafale India programme together with French Dassault Aviation, Thales plans to expand its footprints in India by growing bigger and becoming more local. For that purpose, recently, Thales moved to a bigger India headquarter in the National Capital Region (NCR) Noida that also has set up a bigger engineering centre dedicated to its digital identity and security business. It has more Engineering Competences Centres (ECC) like in Bengaluru specialises in defence, aerospace, and transportation another in Gurugram focused on cybersecurity, IoT, biometric and big data analytics solutions.
As India marches towards its goal of ‘Atmanirbharta’ or self-reliance, it opens up immense opportunities for local and global defence and aerospace sectors to work together and strengthen the industrial ecosystem in the country.
Backed by its strong presence in diverse verticals like defence, aerospace, transportation and digital identity and security, Thales has been working closely with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the upgrade of the Mirage 2000, Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) dedicated to radars, Samtel dedicated to military avionics and Reliance Aerostructure Limited for electronic warfare and airborne radar as well as over 75 supply chain partners in India catering to the requirements of the Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and Indian Army.
According to Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, Vice-President and Country Director, Thales in India, “Since the inception of our operations in India, we are proudly supporting the modernisation efforts of the Indian armed forces and helping them to prepare, achieve and maintain tactical superiority over any form of threat.” Adding, “Thales will continue to develop capabilities for local engineering, procurement from India and strengthen its local partnerships. Building collaborations with the Indian industry and transforming the country into a defence manufacturing hub shall remain a priority of Thales’ focus for India”.
To push its agenda further, Thales showcases its cutting-edge defence platforms and advanced technology in the ongoing Aero India 2021 air show started on 3 February in Bangaluru. In the air show, the company is displaying its land and naval defence along with a special feature on its efforts towards ‘Make in India’. Thales has brought the latest addition to its family of airborne surveillance radars, the AirMaster C, to the air show including airborne optronic capability. With this new product, Thales offers an optimised surveillance solution for a broader array of platform types and operators, ensuring they benefit from the highest levels of mission performance as they face the new challenges ahead. Among the other demos for the tri-forces, systems like SYNAPS software-defined radios, armaments, small arms, counter-UAV measures and air defence solutions such as STARStreak for which a teaming agreement has been recently signed between Thales and Bharat Dynamics Limited will take the centre stage.